Facebook has agreed to release to Congress advertisements purchased by accounts tied to a Russian "troll farm" that were run during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Colin Stretch, Facebook's general counsel, said Thursday Facebook came to an agreement with congressional investigators to release the ads and some of the information related to them.
"We believe it is vitally important that government authorities have the information they need to deliver to the public a full assessment of what happened in the 2016 election," Stretch said in a statement. "That is an assessment that can be made only by investigators with access to classified intelligence and information from all relevant companies and industries — and we want to do our part. Congress is best placed to use the information we and others provide to inform the public comprehensively and completely."
Facebook revealed earlier this month it tracked $100,000 in ad spending to 470 fake accounts tied to a Russian "troll farm" that was known to promote pro-Kremlin propaganda. The ad spending was connected to roughly 3,000 ads, which were run from June 2015 to May 2017.
The social media company said the majority of the ads did not specifically reference Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, or the 2016 election, but rather focused on magnifying politically and socially divisive issues like immigration, gun rights, race issues and gay rights.
Facebook said it showed samples of the ads to congressional committees investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election. The company also provided copies of the ads to special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the Justice Department's investigation into Russia's interference in the election, after Mueller and his team obtained a search warrant.
The social media platform initially hesitated to make the ads public, saying doing so would violate its privacy rules.
But Stretch said Facebook ultimately decided to release the ads after realizing that grasping a complete understanding of Russia' efforts to meddle in the 2016 election requires a "united effort, from across the technology, intelligence and political communities."
"We believe 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," he said.
Officials from Facebook and Twitter are expected to speak with congressional investigators in the near future.