Mark Zuckerberg's refusal to make Russia-linked Facebook ads public is a disgrace

Forever tainting the otherwise inoffensive gray-to-beige color palette, billionaire Mark Zuckerberg took to Facebook Live today to address his company’s role in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. 

Perched behind a pretend Oval Office desk in a room straight out of an Ikea-meets-TwilightZone mashup, he spoke directly to the American people about the approximately 3,000 Russia-linked ads — which possibly helped Donald Trump win the election — that his company profited from.

Zuckerberg promised to turn the advertisements in question over to congressional investigators, but stopped short of saying he would release them to the public. Which is a total bullshit cop out, and he should be ashamed of himself. 

Facebook has repeatedly brushed off calls to make the ads public, with a spokesperson telling Business Insider earlier this month that “Due to both federal law and the fact that investigations are ongoing with the relevant authorities, we’re unable to share the ads.” However, when pressed by the publication, the company refused to specify which laws (if any) prevented them from releasing the ads.

What’s more, Sen. Mark Warner has explicitly called for Facebook to make the advertisements public. “They shared the content with staff,” Gizmodo reports him telling press earlier this month, “but the public deserves to look at that content.”

We reached out to Facebook directly to determine what reason it has for withholding this vital information (other than covering its own ass), and the company directed us to a Sept. 21 blog post

“Federal law places strict limitations on the disclosure of account information,” reads the statement in part. “Given the sensitive national security and privacy issues involved in this extraordinary investigation, we think Congress is best placed to use the information we and others provide to inform the public comprehensively and completely.”

A spokesperson did not respond to our question as to what federal law, specifically, prevents Facebook from making the ads public. 

Meanwhile, Zuckerberg is busy assuring everyone that he and his company — which totally missed the now undisputed Russian interference the first time around — have this all under control. 

“We are increasing our investment in security and specifically election integrity,” intoned the Zuck as he read from what could only be a teleprompter. “In the next year, we will more than double the team working on election integrity. In total, we’ll add more than 250 people across all our teams focused on security and safety for our community.”

Pardon us if, after seeing you brush off the reality of targeted misinformation affecting the 2016 election as “a pretty crazy idea,” we’re a little reluctant to believe that 250 additional Facebook employees working in relative secret will have the leadership required to solve this uniquely complex problem. 

The American public deserves to see the content that was weaponized against them, and the time for Facebook to put all its cards on the table has long passed. Zuckerberg’s statement today that he will turn the ads over to Congress and that he’s finally taking this matter seriously aren’t enough. If he and his multiple-hundred-billion-dollar surveillance platform hope to have any meaningful place in our society going forward, he needs to get out from behind his desk and step up to the plate.

We’re waiting. 

WATCH: Porsche’s electric car might just give Tesla a run for its money

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