Facebook on Thursday announced it would turn over to Congress copies of more than 3,000 politically themed advertisements bought through Russian accounts during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, reversing a decision that had frustrated lawmakers. The company has been struggling for months to address the steadily mounting evidence that Russians manipulated the social media platform in their bid to tip the presidential election in favor of Republican Donald Trump. Democratic lawmakers in recent days had demanded that Facebook be more open about what it knows and to dig more deeply into its troves of data to analyze the propaganda effort, which the company has acknowledged involved at least 470 fake accounts and pages created by a shadowy Russian company that spent more than $100,000 targeting U.S. voters.
Lawmakers particularly wanted copies of the ads bought through the fake accounts, some of which Facebook officials showed to Hill investigators and then took away, making further study impossible. The company said sharing the ads would compromise users’ privacy.
Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced a reversal of that decision Thursday, saying that the company believed it could share the ads with Congress without compromising user privacy. The company already had shared at least some of the same information with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.