WASHINGTON, Sept 22 (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday questioned Facebook Inc's decision to overhaul how it handles paid political advertisements amid investigations into alleged Russian interference in U.S. elections.
"The Russia hoax continues, now it's ads on Facebook," Trump wrote on Twitter. "What about the totally biased and dishonest Media coverage in favor of Crooked Hillary," referring to Hillary Clinton, his rival in the 2016 presidential campaign.
Earlier this month, Facebook said an internal review had shown that an operation likely based in Russia spent $100,000 on 3,000 Facebook ads promoting divisive messages in the months before and after the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
RELATED: Key players in Trump-Russia connection revealed
Key Trump officials, advisers of note in the Russia probe
Key Trump officials, advisers of note in the Russia probe
The close friend to Donald Trump and CEO of private equity firm Colony Capital recommended that Trump bring in Paul Manafort for his presidential campaign.
R. James Woolsey
Woolsey, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), has cooperated with Mueller's investigation and worked with Michael Flynn and was present at a meeting where they discussed removing the controversial Turkish Muslim cleric Fetullah Gulen from US soil.
(Christopher Goodney/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
The former senior Trump campaign official and White House adviser was present and crucial during the firings of Michael Flynn and James Comey.
The former head of the Trump transition team following the 2016 election has said previously that he believes he was fired due to his opposing the hiring of Michael Flynn as national security adviser.
Former U.S. senator Jeff Sessions from Alabama joined Trump's campaign as a foreign policy adviser in February 2016. Sessions was nominated to be U.S. attorney general by President Trump and was then confirmed by the Senate. Reports then emerged that Sessions had spoken twice with Sergey Kislyak while he was senator -- a fact that he left out of his Senate hearing testimony. Instead, he said in writing that he had not communicated with any Russian officials during the campaign season. Sessions defended himself saying he had spoken with Kislyak specifically in a senate capacity.
Paul Manafort signed on as Donald Trump's campaign manager in March 2016. A longtime Republican strategist and beltway operative, Manafort had previously served as an adviser to former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich -- a pro-Russia leader who was violently ousted in 2014. Manafort resigned from his campaign position in August 2016 amid questions over his lobbying history in Ukraine for an administration supportive of Russia. The former campaign manager reportedly remained in Trump's circle during the post-election transition period.
Gen. Michael Flynn was named President Trump's national security adviser in November of 2016. Flynn reportedly met and spoke with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in December, at one point discussing sanctions. Flynn originally told Vice President Pence he did not discuss sanctions -- a point the Department of Justice said made the national security adviser subject to blackmail. Flynn resigned from his position in February.
2016 election winner Donald Trump is at the center of special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russia's handlings.
Clovis, a former member of the Trump campaign, arrives on at the U.S. Capitol December 12, 2017 to appear before a closed meeting of the House Intelligence Committee. Clovis worked with George Papadopoulos, a former Donald Trump campaign foreign policy advisor who struck a plea deal on charges of lying to the FBI.
(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Stone is a longtime Republican political consultant who served as a campaign adviser to Trump who continued to talk with the then-GOP candidate after stepping away from his adviser role. Stone claimed last year that he had knowledge of the planned WikiLeaks release of emails pertaining to Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee. Stone recently admitted to speaking via direct message with "Guccifer 2.0" -- an online entity U.S. officials believe is tied to Russia. Stone says the correspondence was “completely innocuous.”
Page worked for Merrill Lynch as an investment banker out of their Moscow office for three years before joining Trump's campaign as a foreign policy adviser. During his time with Merrill Lynch, Page advised transactions for two major Russian entities. Page has called Washington "hypocritical" for focusing on corruption and democratization in addressing U.S. relations with Russia. While Page is someone Trump camp has seemingly tried to distance itself from, Page recently said he has made frequent visits to Trump Tower.
Before Gordon joined the Trump campaign as a national security adviser in March 2016, he served as a Pentagon spokesman from 2005 through 2009. Like others involved in Trump-Russia allegations, Gordon met with ambassador Kislyak in July at the Republican National Convention, but has since denied any wrongdoing in their conversation. He advocated for and worked to revise the RNC language on and position toward Ukraine relations, so it was more friendly toward Russia's dealings in the country.
Former Trump campaign aide Michael Caputo (L)
Caputo waves goodbye to reporters after he testified before the House Intelligence Committee during a closed-door session at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center July 14, 2017 in Washington, DC. Caputo resigned from being a Trump campaign communications advisor after appearing to celebrate the firing of former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Denying any contact with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign, Caputo did live in Moscow during the 1990s, served as an adviser to former Russian President Boris Yeltsin and did pro-Putin public relations work for the Russian conglomerate Gazprom Media.
(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Stephen Miller, White House Senior Advisor for Policy
Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer
Donald Trump Jr.
White House Senior adviser Jared Kushner
Executive assistant to Donald Trump Rhona Graff
White House Communications Director Hope Hicks
Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski
US Vice President Mike Pence
Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci
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The company initially declined to turn over details on the ads to Congress but said on Thursday it would do so, making a concession to U.S. lawmakers who have threatened to regulate the world's largest social network over ads that run during election campaigns.
Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook, for the first time, would now make it possible for anyone to see any political ads that run on Facebook, no matter whom they target.
Facebook also will demand that political advertisers disclose who is paying for the advertisements, a requirement that under U.S. law applies to political ads on television but not on social media.
Zuckerberg said on Thursday the changes would help address concerns that governments including Russia are using Facebook ads to meddle in other countries' elections.
U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Russia engaged in cyber attacks to sway the 2016 election against Democrat Hillary Clinton in favor of Trump. U.S. congressional investigators and a special counsel are investigating the matter. Moscow has denied any interference.
While Trump dismissed the advertisement controversy, his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, expressed concern.
"Well, I think all of these social media providers are faced with many challenges," Tillerson said on ABC's "Good Morning America," pointing to their use by militant groups around the world as well as in election campaigns.
"But they also have responsibilities," he said. "And I think they're going to have to think carefully about their responsibilities in this regard."
U.S. election law bars foreign nationals and foreign entities from spending money to expressly advocate the election or defeat of a candidate. (Reporting by Doina Chiacu and Susan Heavey; Editing by Bill Trott)