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Facebook pushes ad overhaul before 2018 United States presidential elections

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.   Drew Angerer  Getty Images

Facebook and other major internet companies including Alphabet's Google (GOOGL.O) and Twitter (TWTR.N) are on the defensive as they try to limit fallout from a torrent of revelations about how Moscow sought to use their platforms to sow discord in the United States and influence the election.

Facebook had earlier turned over 3,000 Russian-linked ads to the intelligence committees but bristled at the notion of releasing them, citing the company's privacy policy.

Sandberg said it was important to protect "free expression" on Facebook and that if the Russian ads had been bought by legitimate accounts instead of fraudulent ones, many would have been allowed to run on the site.

Sandberg is meeting with elected officials in Washington this week ahead of a House hearing at which executives from Facebook, Twitter and Google are expected to testify. She said the company had been too permissive at times in terms of how advertisers are allowed to target users, and that Facebook did not want to allow ads that may be "discriminatory".

Representatives from Facebook, Google and Twitter are expected to testify about Russian influence at hearings before the Senate and House intelligence committees on November 1.

Conaway, R-Texas, and the top Democrat on the panel, California Rep. Adam Schiff, met with Sandberg in the office of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

Sandberg was in Washington for meetings with US lawmakers.

House lawmakers investigating Russia's suspected meddling in the 2016 US presidential election are hoping to release copies of the 3,000 Facebook ads purchased by Kremlin-aligned agents and trolls.

Sandberg said, according to Schiff, that Facebook is 'determined to take whatever steps are necessary to ferret out foreign actors creating fake identities and using their platform'. None of the ads was officially shared with the public, although several news outlets said they had been shown some examples.

"We think we have more responsibility", she added.

"My personal view is that they are publishers but that is only my personal view, that is not an Ofcom view", she told politicians.

"In that ad, there are a lot of things that people don't like, that I don't like".

Otherwise, though, Facebook has not released copies of the ads for public viewing. The person said the ads were meant to inflame all sides, with some showing white police officers beating black people.

In a letter to Facebook last month, Democratic Rep. Robin Kelly of IL, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, wrote Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and asked him to do more to strengthen controls against discriminatory ads.

'We believe that other organizations that worked on the campaign have been asked to do the same, ' Cambridge Analytica said in a statement, adding that there was no 'suggestion of wrongdoing'.

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