Facebook CEO Zuckerberg outlines scope of Russia’s reach

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, April 9, 2018, to meet with Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., the ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee. | AP Photo

Mark Zuckerberg says as many as 146 million people may have received information from a Russian agency that’s accused of orchestrating much of the cyber-meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

The Facebook CEO says his company found about 470 accounts and pages linked to the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency, which generated around 80,000 Facebook posts over roughly a two-year period.

Zuckerberg says most of the people — roughly 126 million — “may have been served content” from a Facebook page linked to the Russian agency. Another 20 million “were likely served” on Instagram.

The Trump administration last month hit Internet Research Agency employees with financial sanctions. Special Counsel Robert Mueller had earlier indicted these employees for seeking to conduct “information warfare” against the U.S.


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The top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee says he believes Zuckerberg is taking congressional hearings seriously “because he knows there is going to be a hard look at regulation.”

Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida said Zuckerberg was “forthright and honest to the degree he could” be in a private meeting the day before Zuckerberg testifies before the committee.

Nelson said it’s going to be difficult with Republicans in charge, but argued there should regulation to ensure users’ privacy on social media.

Zuckerberg says his company was too slow to spot or respond to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. He’s also apologizing for a privacy scandal that allowed third-party apps to harvest the personal data of users without their consent.

Zuckerberg says in an opening statement to be delivered to congressional committees, “I started Facebook, I run it, and I’m responsible for what happens here.”

He says that includes “fake news, foreign interference in elections, and hate speech, as well as developers and data privacy.”

Zuckerberg says Facebook is an “idealistic and optimistic company.” But he says Facebook didn’t take a broad enough view of its responsibility. He says that was a “big mistake.”

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