Facebook not a media company: COO Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg

As people debate Facebook's role in influencing people during the U.S. presidential elections by Russian ads and fake news on the platform, the company's COO Sheryl Sandberg has stressed that the social media giant is not a media organisation, and therefore does not hire journalists.

Sandberg said the company began hearing rumors of Russian attempts to use the platform to spread propaganda around election day, but did not give a precise timeline about when the company began its review. She said Facebook hopes to "set a new standard in transparency in advertising".

The live interview was the first by a senior Facebook executive since the social media giant last month told congressional panels investigating allegations of Russian meddling during the election that it had found 3,000 politically divisive ads believed to have been bought by Russia. "And whenever you have [an] entity like the Russians who are purchasing ads in rubles or dollars through fake accounts, sowing seeds of racial tension and animosity and anti-immigrant sentiment and Islamophobia, we should all be concerned".

"The thing about free expression is that when you allow free expression, you allow free expression", Sandberg said.

"This is a very fragile moment in time for African-Americans across this country", CBC chairman Cedric Richmond said.

Jill Stein
Green Party candidate Jill Stein was among those boosted by the Russian-bought ads. REUTERS Jim Young

"None of us should want this kind of foreign interference and in others to prevent it, we are all going to have to fully cooperate with each other, with government, across the board", Sandberg said.

"So, Twitter took down the ad and put it back up", Sandberg said.

Facebook's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has backtracked from calling the idea of Facebook's influence on the election "pretty insane".

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus meeting with Donald Trump in early 2017.

Besides discussing election meddling, the members also pushed for Facebook to improve diversity in its workforce, particularly in its upper management. Currently, Facebook's eight-member board of directors is all white and 75 per cent male. Two, including Sandberg, are women.

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