Feinstein: Russian Facebook ads should be made public

Feinstein discusses Russia Facebook ads

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said on Sunday she believes the three-thousand Facebook ads purchased by Russian entities to influence last year's election, which were  handed over to congressional investigators last Monday, should now be made public. 

"I think it's important so people can see, and the technical analysis is made by technical staff of what all of this means, but I think people have a right to see what all of this is," said Feinstein, a ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, to John Dickerson on "Face the Nation."

The senator's comment runs parallel to remarks made by Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner last week supporting public disclosure for more transparency on the multiple congressional probes currently studying social media's part to play in Russian propaganda and disinformation efforts within the U.S.  

Feinstein sang Facebook's praises for agreeing last week, after much deliberation, to give the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary Committees the thousands of ads - ads which had cost more than $100,000 to run. She expressed hope for cooperation of other social media and tech giants such as Twitter and Alphabet (the parent company of Google), which also witnessed Russian influence efforts on their platforms.

"I must really commend Facebook for doing this because it is a breakthrough moment, and hopefully we will be getting more cooperation from the tech community in this very difficult arena," Feinstein said. "This is not easy stuff because people abuse it, they use it for reasons inventors didn't think would be possible, encryption has a double edge to it and it's a very difficult arena."

The senator suggested that there is still more work to be done to understand the extent of the targeted ads which endeavored to wedge divides between the American electorate on issues ranging from Black Lives Matter to immigration. 

"So, I think Facebook did the right thing by producing this information and I think you can ask us," Feinstein said, "at least ask our side of it, the judiciary side of it, some questions in about a week or two when we have an opportunity to go through all of these Facebook messages."

Business representatives from Twitter and Facebook will be back on Capitol Hill soon.  Both have agreed to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee in a public hearing on November 1 about the role and extent to which Russian trolls, hundreds of fraud accounts and targeted advertising sculpted the political landscape.