Facebook Inc. told a Senate panel that it has detected “only what appears to be insignificant overlap” between targeting of ads and content promoted by a pro-Kremlin Russia group and by the presidential campaign of Donald Trump.
The social-media company said it “does not believe it is in a position to substantiate or disprove allegations of possible collusion” between Russia and the Trump campaign, as part of a written response to questions from the Senate Intelligence Committee released Thursday evening by the panel. Facebook didn’t go into further detail, saying it was willing to schedule a meeting with Senate staff to discuss the matter.
The remarks go beyond what the company told Congress during public hearings on Nov. 1 as part of probes into Russian election meddling. At that time, Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch said, “We have not seen overlap in the targeting — that was relatively rudimentary — used in the advertising that was disclosed, and any other advertiser on the site, including the Trump campaign.”
In responding to the Senate panel, Facebook, Twitter Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google defended their efforts to combat malicious content on their networks and touted new disclosure efforts for election-related content that should be up and running for the 2018 midterm elections.
The company answers aren’t likely to quell concerns from lawmakers that the companies may not have found all of the abuse of its networks by Russians or taken enough steps to prevent future actions.
Facebook said it has no evidence that the Russian Internet Research Agency, which disseminated fake news and ads, targeted its efforts based on U.S. voter registration data.