Dickerson: Russian Ads on Facebook Seem Too Small an Amount to Affect Election

September 24, 2017

CBS "Face The Nation" host John Dickerson expressed doubts Sunday to Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.) over what impact the Russian-linked ads on Facebook had on the election.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced this week the company was turning over more than 3,000 Russia-linked ads to congressional committees that are investigating the extent of the Russian 2016 election interference campaign. Facebook disclosed on Sept. 6 it had identified $100,000 in advertising bought by a shadowy company tied to the Kremlin.

Schiff said the Russia-linked advertising was designed to pit Americans against each other on some of the most divisive issues in the country and also criticized Facebook's algorithms that confirm people's biases.

"That's a Facebook problem, not a Russia problem," Dickerson said. "That's a problem with their algorithm that keeps us all siloed in certain, narrow areas."

"There's certainly a Russia implication, because they use these algorithms to amplify misinformation or slanted information," Schiff said.

"What's the impact, though, of these Russian Facebook ads?" Dickerson asked. "I mean, is anybody saying that they had any influence on the election that changed the outcome in any possible way? It seems a small amount to have done anything like that."

Dickerson said the $100,000 in ads was the only amount confirmed to date by Facebook to be linked to Russia, saying it could have purchased ads through third countries and other proxies.

Zuckerberg said shortly after last year's election that he doubted "fake news" spread on Facebook influenced the election.

"Personally, I think the idea that fake news on Facebook, which is a very small amount of the content, influenced the election in any way — I think is a pretty crazy idea," he said.

In a Facebook Live video this week, Zuckerberg said it would be unrealistic to try to stop all outside governments from interference but the company would try. He also pledged to make political advertising on the social media site more transparent.