Under threat of possible subpoena, Facebook has agreed to hand over copies of every ad purchased by fake accounts that were traced back to Russian buyers.
In total, Facebook is expected to hand over approximately 3,000 ads.
Facebook Inc. said it will give Congress information on the political ads bought by Russians to sow discord ahead of the U.S. presidential election, and vowed to publicly disclose more details on this marketing in the future. [...]
“The public deserves a full accounting of what happened in the 2016 election, and we’ve concluded that sharing the ads we’ve discovered, in a manner that is consistent with our obligations to protect user information, can help,” Colin Stretch, Facebook’s general counsel, said in a blog post.
Copies of some of the ads traced back to Russian buyers were shared online last week after they were initially provided to special prosecutor Robert Mueller, but that was only a handful of the 3,000 ads Facebook will turn over to Congress.
Regardless of what Congress officially decides to do with the ads, I expect the leaks will begin in earnest once congressional staffers get a look at them. But I don't necessarily expect Democratic members of Congress and their staff will be the only ones doing the leaking because I expect some portion of the 3,000 ads will also include left wing anti-Clinton messages that Republicans will want to highlight.
Put simply, I expect we'll learn that most of the ads were directed at and shared by conservative voters, but some will have also been shared by liberals. Hillary Clinton was smeared from virtually every angle in 2016.
If Congress is reluctant to release a detailed accounting of the ads to the public, it could be because some of them and their own staffers shared the ads during the election.