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Facebook pushes ad overhaul before 2018 US election: executive

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By David Ingram

SAN JOSE, Calif. (Reuters) – Facebook Inc has begun overhauling how it handles political ads on its platform and may put some changes in place before U.S. elections next year, Facebook’s chief technology officer said on Wednesday.

U.S. congressional and state elections set for November 2018 present a deadline of sorts for Facebook and other social media companies to get better at halting the kind of election meddling that the United States accuses Russia of.

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“We are working on all of this stuff actively now, so there is a big focus in the company to improve all of this on a regular basis,” Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer said in an interview.

“You’re going to see a regular cadence of updates and changes,” he said, speaking on the sidelines of a conference that Facebook is hosting about virtual reality technology.

Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said last month that the company would begin treating political ads differently from other ads, including by making it possible for anyone to see political ads, no matter whom they target. U.S. lawmakers had begun calling for regulations.

Disclosures by Facebook, Twitter Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google that their products were battlegrounds for Russian election meddling last year have turned into a crisis for Silicon Valley.

Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, is in Washington this week meeting U.S. lawmakers.

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Moscow has denied allegations of meddling in last year’s U.S. presidential election.

Implementing changes is tricky, Schroepfer said, because Facebook does not want to stifle legitimate speech and because of the volume of material on Facebook, the world’s largest social network with 2 billion users and 5 million advertisers.

“We’re investing very heavily in technical solutions, because we’re operating at an unprecedented scale,” he said.

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Facebook is also using humans. The company said this month it would hire 1,000 more people to review ads and ensure they meet its terms.

Schroepfer, 42, has been Facebook’s CTO since 2013 and previously was director of engineering. He also sits on Facebook’s board of directors.

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Facebook has dealt with problematic user-generated content in the past, he said.

“We don’t want misuse of the platform, whether that’s a foreign government trying to intercede in a democracy – that’s obviously not OK – or whether it’s an individual spewing hate or uploading pornography,” he said.

(Reporting by David Ingram; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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John Oliver explains how the Ukraine scandal so stupid even Fox News ‘idiot’ Steve Doocy should understand it

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"Last Week Tonight" host John Oliver closed out his season with a special report for Fox News hosts who seem to be struggling with the basic understanding of things like "bribery" or the concept that attempted crimes are still actually crimes.

At the top of Sunday's show, Oliver played a clip of Fox News host Laura Ingraham who made the argument that if Trump tried to commit a crime and didn't manage to pull it off, then he's clearly innocent.

"Attempted bribery isn't in the constitution," proclaimed Ingraham, forgetting about what "high crimes and misdemeanors" covers. "Remember, Ukraine got its aid, it was 14 days delayed, big deal. And Ukraine never made any public statement about the investigation."

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This is the energy executive who first exposed Trump’s Ukraine scandal: report

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CNN host Chris Cuomo did a special investigative report by Drew Griffin looking at the money trail from Russia to President Donald Trump's Ukraine scandal.

"You probably don’t know Dale Perry, but history may record this energy executive as one of the first who sounded the alarm about what would become President Trump’s impeachment inquiry," said Griffin. "In April, Perry’s former business partner Andrew Favorov, now a director at Ukraine's state-owned gas company Naftogaz, says two shady characters had approached him, with a secret management plan to take over the management from the inside. Those two shady characters Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, are two low-level, Soviet-born businessmen from south Florida. And they were trying to clear the way for their own gas business."

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‘A slam-dunk-case’: MSNBC analysts predict GOP will defend Trump — and ‘the guy is going to get off’

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More evidence was outed Sunday as the Wall Street Journal revealed emails from EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland, who promised to keep the White House abreast of President Donald Trump's demand for an investigation by Ukraine. The news prompted an MSNBC panelists to explain that it wouldn't matter how much evidence was presented, Republicans will never vote to remove Trump.

Host Geoff Bennett asked about the witness testimony and preponderance of evidence that "all points in one direction at this point, that President Trump orchestrated this entire" Ukraine investigations.

"It's a slam dunk case, and yet we know the guy is going to get off," said Los Angels Times White House reporter Eli Stokols. "That's effectively what you're saying. Because all the testimony has lined up so closely, the fact that [EU Ambassador Gordon] Sondland has come to come in, and because testimony from [Ambassador Bill] Taylor and others, has had to change testimony, Republicans have no choice -- the president has no choice but to try to dismiss the entire thing as partisan."

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