On Yom Kippur, the Jewish “Day of Atonement,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was ready to confess remorse. “For the ways my work was used to divide people rather than bring us together, I ask forgiveness,” he wrote on his personal page. “I will work to do better.”

There’s no reason to think Zuckerberg was anything but sincere. Facebook, which recently gave Congressional investigators 3,000 ads believed linked to Russian entities, took out full-page newspaper ads to pledge its commitment to transparency and free elections.

His remorse, however, was slightly misplaced. It’s not just that the Russian-sponsored ads divided people, though of course they did. Elections are all about dividing people.

It’s that the ads misled people. From the fragmentary information we have, the Russians appear to have deployed patriots, puppies, and phony black activists to stoke our fears.

That brings me to my point: While everyone seems eager to investigate Russian influence, there’s no assurance from Facebook or congressional leaders that we actually will be able to see the questionable social media ads. And that should change very soon.

According to the New York Times, Facebook has cited legal restrictions and the ongoing federal investigation in declining to identify specific groups or advertisements.

That’s understandable: A global company like the Menlo Park-based Facebook doesn’t want advertisers to think their records are easily surrendered. It hurts the bottom line.

But the Russian effort to meddle in the 2016 election goes to the heart of what we hold dear as a nation. We went through the pain of writing a Declaration of Independence 241 years ago to assert our right to make our own decisions.

To preserve that right, we need to know exactly where we were misled. It’s not enough to read high-sounding statements from Facebook about how it will review ads more thoroughly, or work with Congress, or …read more

Source:: East Bay – Business

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