(CNN) Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg will not say whether her company has identified similarities in how Russian agents and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign used the social media platform ahead of the 2016 election.
In an interview with Axios on Thursday, Sandberg repeatedly refused to answer when asked whether Facebook had seen an overlap in how Russians and the Trump campaign targeted their ads toward users.
The question of overlap is of potential significance for special counsel Robert Mueller and congressional investigators as they look for evidence of collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign. Facebook has shared its data about the ads with the special counsel.
Sheryl Sandberg: "Things happened on our platform in this election that should not have happened." pic.twitter.com/PD9bNIFU8f
— Axios (@axios) October 12, 2017
Sandberg did say that Facebook and Congress would release data on the Russian ad targeting when they release the ads to the public next month.
“We know we have a responsibility to prevent everything we can from this happening on our platforms,” Sandberg said, “and so we told Congress and the intelligence committees that when they are ready to release the ads, we are ready to help them.”
'When you allow free expression, you allow free expression:' Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg on running fake Russian ads https://t.co/Ws1F7fWww9
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) October 12, 2017
Sandberg’s interview came a day after she held closed-door meetings with members of the House intelligence committee, which resulted in Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, announcing that the committee would make the ads public after a public hearing next month.
The Facebook COO dodged several questions during the Axios interview, including one on whether or not Facebook owed the American people an apology. Sandberg instead opted to say that whenever the platform was misused, “we’re angry, we’re upset.”
Sandberg also stood behind Facebook’s commitment to an open platform, and the right of people to say things or buy ads that supported controversial issues.
“When you allow free expression, you allow free expression,” she said.