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Facebook to release contents of 3,000 Russian ads to Congress

FILE - In this Wednesday, June 21, 2017, photo, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during preparation for the Facebook Communities Summit, in Chicago, in advance of an announcement of a new Facebook initiative designed to spur people to form more meaningful communities with Facebook's groups feature. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Facebook will provide to Congress the contents of 3,000 ads bought by a Russian agency in order to aid intelligence committees' probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Thursday.

Speaking via a Facebook live video, Zuckerberg told the public "we are committed to rising to the occasion...to work with the government to find out the full extent of Russian interference."

The decision came just weeks after Facebook released results of its probe into the presidential election.

In their investigation, the company discovered about 3,000 -- $100,000 worth -- of ads had originated with Russian profiles.

Zuckerberg said Thursday that it's unclear if the ads were purchased by a "Russian operation" -- yet the sheer volume indicates a clear possibility that the site provided a platform for foreign interference in the presidential election.

"The vast majority of our over 5 million advertisers use our self-service tools," the company explained in a correlated blog post. "This allows individuals or businesses to create a Facebook Page, attach a credit card or some other payment method and run ads promoting their posts.

Zuckerberg acknowledged such ads may still be on Facebook.

"It's possible that government investigators have information that could help us, and we welcome any information the authorities are willing to share to help with our own investigations," the blog post said.

Facebook's contribution marks the latest step in the House and Senate intelligence committees' quest to determine the extent of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

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