The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee said Thursday that Facebook's discovery that phony accounts tied to Russia purchased $100,000 in ads during the 2016 presidential campaign may be "the tip of the iceberg" in the Russia election scandal.
"I think we may just be seeing the tip of the iceberg. They had a fairly narrow search," Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va. said, referencing Facebook's process for finding the ads and accounts. "We've seen them take down certain pages. It's rather minor compared to the 50,000 accounts they took down before the French election."
Warner told reporters the committee received information from Facebook about the accounts, which the social media network said originated in Russia. In addition to receiving a briefing from the social media company about its findings, Warner said it disclosed the contents of the ads with Senate Intelligence Committee staff.
Warner told reporters the American people should also be able to see the ads.
"The American people deserve to know both the content and the source of information that is being used to try to affect their votes," Warner said, according to CBS News.
The Virginia Democrat said he wants to know the extent of Russia's involvement in using Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms.
Facebook's Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos revealed in a blog post Wednesday it had tracked $100,000 in ad spending from June 2015 to May 2017 to roughly 3,000 ads connected to 470 "inauthentic accounts and pages." The ads would show up on Facebook, and the company said they were directed toward specific geographic areas of the country.
Facebook's analysis of those accounts and pages showed they were likely run out of Russia, and an official with the company told the Washington Post the ad sales were traced back to a Russian "troll farm" called the Internet Research Agency.
Facebook said it closed the phony accounts that remained active.
The "vast majority" of the ads didn't mention the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, or Donald Trump, Facebook said. Instead, they focused on magnifying politically and socially divisive issues including immigration, gun rights, race issues, and gay rights.
Stamos said Facebook disclosed its discovery with U.S. officials investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election. The social media company also shared its findings with Robert Mueller, the special counsel leading the Justice Department's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Twitter also plans to discuss similar findings with the Senate Intelligence Committee, Warner said.