tv The Communicators Angwin Mc Cabe CSPAN October 21, 2017 6:29pm-7:00pm EDT
executive director of paralyzed veterans retired marine corps officer talks about his paralysis see from a patient's perspective, policy paralysis and his work to help paralyzed vets. >> i am trying to tell them this perspective, advocateshat i perspective, you have to empathize that is what will make it the ideal provider for veterans who have gone into combat and sacrificed. >> sunday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span q&a. "communicators," communicators, russia's involvement with the election with julia angwin. that facebook has said
they learned a number of adds placed during the election were outfits under an anonymous accounts, and they ads. political divisive not necessarily, it seems like candidate or sowing but just aimed at decisiveness on certain topics. 8:00 eastern monday on c-span 2. host: -- is our guest this week to talk about facebook, russia.al ads and ms. angwin what have we learned in the past couple of months rom the investigation into facebook and the russian ads [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] julia: thanks for having me on.
we've learned a lot in the last month about facebook and russia. ssentially facebook has said hey learned that bunch of ads placed during the election were under by russian outfits anonymous accounts. they were politically divisive ads. seemed like ly it aimed at one candidate or but aimed at sowing charged topics. ost: why did facebook not know who was placing the ads? julia: it's not totally clear do for due didn't diligence on the accounts. the ad were bought in rubles. law that is say that foreigners can't buy election but apparently, these theyed through and because were under some sort of fake identities, maybe, they didn't them until recently.
host: what i learned in your that these are basically self service ad placement, correct? necessarily a human involved? julia: yes. easy.very you get an automated response. usually within 10 or 15 minutes your ad was approved or if it wasn't approved. o, you know, facebook hasn't been very clear about how many humans are engaged in this system, you know. there are a lot of algorithms and there are some notns, but apparently maybe enough humans. host: so these ads could have een placed without facebook even knowing it? julia: yeah, most likely they were, you know. volume is a huge business. one thing about their is that ng platform there are a lot of small ad buys. ads, $10buy $5 worth of
worth of ads to target people in your town. hey do have a huge volume of ads going through and i think disclosed that they wasn't a particularly huge amount of money. a hundred dollars or something. so they may not have noticed it. it sounds like they didn't much later when it was brought to their attention somehow. now, julia ght angwin, we're looking at a undred thousand dollars worth of ads but i read in propublica ads.llion people saw these what have you found? julia: there is a lot of debate about how many people could have a hundred thousand dollars worth of ads because the way facebook's platform operates, you go on to the self-service platform and you reach men i want to and women age 18-25 who live in ohio, it will give you an people theyhow many think that ad would reach and so people have gone into facebook made a guess of what
kind of reach this amount of money would have had. just don't really probablyanswer, but it was pretty wide. i can get several thousand 50,000, for $10 ad buys. have you seen the ads that were placed by the russians? seen a few e only that were published by some news outlets. of the ads have leaked out from the congressional committees that are looking at them. has promised to release all of them, and -- actually, said they would release all of them to the congressional investigators and those congressional investigators said all public.ake them we should see them all fairly promises are real. host: of the ones that you've een what do they say, what are their targets? julia: the way they have been escribed is that they are
really divisive. they have some racially charged language. they talk about politically guns, race,ics like abortion. just emed to be kind of inflammatory, you know. just trying to make it seem like happening.me thing is think the one that's most amous is this one that claimed to be from black activists but there was strident language about black activism. host: political ads of that type disclaimers to have and be somewhat regulated, aren't they, disclosures about placing them? julia: most political advertising does require to the re according rules from the federal election ommission, but there has been this exception made for online advertising, basically, for years, the fcc has been whether those t
rules should apply to online advertising, and that deadlock essentially meant that they haven't applied those rules. o basically right now, online advertising doesn't have to have that same disclosure that you a ld see, you know, on tv or radio ad paid for by this committee or that committee. debate has reopened that and perhaps those rules would start to apply. group k was the leading arguing against those rules eing applied to online advertising saying that the ads were so small that that kind of isclosure would be hard to fit into the ad. but they have dropped their objections to it now. now, facebook is also saying they aren't a journalism rganization, they are a tech company, correct? julia: yeah. -- sand berg spoke about whether they are a tech company or a media company. made this sort of fine distinction which is that they are a tech company.
employ engineers, they don't write news articles but they understand they have some of the responsibilities of maybe company in terms of making sure the content, the way it, is safe.d so it sounds like they are kind of softening that distinction a now.le bit right host: some of these platforms editors and arbiters, what can be published, is that a fair assessment? well, absolutely. facebook and google are probably to what st gatekeepers people see in news, what kind of news is delivered to them. twitter as well, because people are getting their news online and they are getting it rated. you go into google news and they tell you what the top news is or facebook news feed is sorted to determine what kind of see. you so these tech companies are bsolutely the gateway to what news we see, and the same way that in the old days, you know, in every paper i
ever worked at, they would have a meeting to discuss what story page go on the front every day, that was big decision. now that kind of a decision is being made on a bigger scale by algorithm.ical host: when we talk about that?ithms what exactly is julia: it sounds like sort of a mysterious thing. just instructions you give to a computer. say that -- ry to it can actually be instructions you give to a person on a piece to complete a task but generally we use it to talk and, computer algorithms, you know, computers are just instructions, because they instructions we give them so algorithms are maybe complex instructions about to sort things, and these days, you know, algorithms are they don't have a rule like put this type of news first or that type of news first.
based sort of on what do people like? are they clicking on this thing that thing more? it automatically resorts in to the user's behavior. host: i'm sure you saw mark penn clinton d for hillary ed.2008, his on in your newspaper. you can't buy the presidency for a hundred thousand dollars is that i e, and he writes have 40 years of experience in politics, and this russian ad mostly after the election anyway, simply does not add up targeted campaign to move voters. it takes tens of millions of deliver meaningful messages to the contested electorate.he s this making a mountain out out of a molehill? > i mean, there is a point to what mark says, which is true, right? but i don't think anyone is russian ads these
tipped the balance in any way. or maybe they are, but i wouldn't claim that. i would say that it's more, what -- e learning is, that this the way that we've built these technological platforms, it vulnerable to what you could call information or disinformation campaigns, whatever you want to call it, some of them are going to be maybe foreign operators but plenty of them are happening domestically. think of pizza gate, right? where a domestic conspiracy up, got a lot of currency on social media and people actually showed up, a guy weapon at this pizza parlor, really believing there were children he wanted to save there. so we're just -- i think this russian story is sort of a way waking up to the fact that these platforms, we've given them a huge amount of decide what kind of things we see as news but they a moral e sort of judgment and the fact checking, you know, that the newspaper made s had when they
decisions about the front page so sometimes these systems can riseamed and bad stuff can to the top. conspiracies and hoaxes can seem oflly real so we're all kind collectively realizing that and trying to decide what to do about it. the tech companies are trying to say, look, it's not our responsibility to vet every but at news out there, the same time, everyone believes we have to do more and the that more? what is host: in some sense, "wall propublica al" or would be a much sterner vetter than facebook, for example? oh, absolutely. for instance, like, you know the checking i do on my articles is insane. i'm very concerned about everything i write being true, and, you know, we have legal liability for what publish, we have lawyers that read everything before we publish and we take our responsibility really seriously. organizations do, and, you know, the problem is, now we of this sort
decentralization of news so anyone can write something and this is a great flowering speech but at the same time, when you have these algorithms that sort and they account the fact that like some news outlets are really fact checking and some people are just writing conspiracy theory they think will get some clicks, and things imes those other can get more traction, more, the algorithm puts them higher up or some sort of lift, and then they can get currency have gotten in the old world. i'm not saying the old world was perfect. a lot of stories that didn't make the cut that should have but we have to figure out a rebalance this equation, i think. ost: julie angwin, in a recent article on propublica you write political ook's new ad transparency initiative. that?is julia: so in the wake of the increasing uy and
pressure about their systems, makeook has said they will political ads transparent. they have been a little vague will happen but essentially what they have said is that political advertisers ill have to disclose the ads that they are buying, so, we can all as the public see them. it works, if iay buy a political ad targeted to people in one small town only it.e people will ever see no one else would ever see it so you could spread lies and wouldn'tation, and you be fact checked the way a tv ad is fact checked. build more is to transparency and they have said that the advertisers will have their own ose ads on facebook page for inspection. now, the question i have is, are every going to go to possible political advertiser, go to their page, and look at those ads, and they only have to there while the campaign is running. o we'll see how this transparency plays out. you know, i hope that it will be
waitingent, but i'm not for that. i've built my own transparency facebook that i'm trying to get people to use in case that thing doesn't work out. is that tool? >> so we at propublica have we're calling the facebook political ad collector and people can put a software, it takes one click to stall to your web browser, either fire fox or and basically when you're on facebook, our little piece of news re will look at your feed and pull out any ads that it thinks are political and it say, show them to you and are these political ads, are we right? you confirm yes or no and it it into our public repose tore so people can see all the political ads out there. facebook user, not all two billion will use our tool but more political ads than has ever seen on facebook before. we also show the user if they tab there is a little where they can say, see ads that weren't targeted to them. so it will be sort of
thatesting to see the ones were targeted and ones that other users are seeing that might be very different than the getting.e the idea is simply that people should be able to see political ads. politicianes should be held promises e for the they make in advertising, and hat we want to build a public repository of these ads. host: is this exclusive to to be k or are you going doing it on other platforms such as twitter, snap, et cetera? julia: we're not doing it on all the platforms just because the reallyogical hurdles are high. also, facebook is really the eading place for political ads from my understanding of talking to people in politics. it has the best microtargeting. it has the biggest reach. it has two billion users worldwide. there is like this ability to find exactly the kind of person you want to find on there. decided to start there. it's not perfect but it's something. how will facebook determine what is political and
what isn't? that's a very good question. facebook hasn't said how they to determine political ds, and we've built an algorithm ourselves. to guess what type of ads are political based on political into the t we fed system, that we still use humans to verify so we have all of our yes, no, was our machine guessing right? will t know how facebook do it? they tend to automate these things also. we find it's really helpful to in the loopans also checking, and then also we as ditors can go in and look through that to make sure that they really are political. you know,a angwin, as sandberg was here in washington the rounds on capitol hill, and media organizations. feeling pressure because of this? julia: oh, absolutely. pressure.s feeling cheryl, i think, was pretty clear about that when she came to washington. saying, retty explicit
look, we need to do better. we know we need to do better. we're trying to do better. think the implicit message was, don't regulate us. we're going to take care of it ourselves, right? and that's what companies do when they feel the pressure. up their self-regulation promises. and we'll see if they pull it off. i think it's a huge lift really. gigantic company, and it's just not clear what kind of versight mechanisms they have right now, but they aren't catching these things that they catch.at they need to and so she mentioned they are investing in technology, they are investing in hiring tons of people, so, you know, we'll see if that's enough to keep washington at bay. host: is there a role for the federal election commission in this? julia: well, federal election commission has, i think, a play here.oles to one is, you know, they could disclosure of these ads,
online advertising. same ould require the amount of disclosure that's required on other types of ads, about who paid for it. this weird thing, when you buy an ad on facebook, you have to an disclose your spending to the federal election commission. reports about what you spent on your campaign. but you can very easily obscure by just placing them through a consultant and then it spent money t you with this digital consultant and those people don't always say hether they placed it on facebook or what was the campaign so there isn't a lot of information about how much money s being spent by campaigns on facebook, twitter, all these different social media platforms, so they could amount of at transparency. there is also a role for the federal communications maybe because they actually require an enhanced amount of disclosure for ads, and perhaps those rules could be transferred online ads also
through the fcc or some other mechanism. angwin, when it comes to television and radio newer media, the tech company platforms, are the all different at this point? julia: there is kind of a regulations. tv is held to like the highest to dard because they have report both at their local television level -- affiliate level. hey have to report detailed spending reports. they have to report to the fcc. report to the -- print is a little bit less, and online is the least amount, and -- but the other thing to emember is that it's not just the regulators that police these ads. mean, the fact that a tv ad almost always is picked up by groups that monitor tv ads and and ame thing with print radio, and then those get circulated, and the opponents
counterad or news organizations often do fact checks of new ads all the time. they get subject to a lot of public scrutiny in addition to the regulation. i think one of the things that's so challenging about online ads is because of this whole ability microamount to just a small audience, they don't get picked up, fact checked and seen by the public. and that, i think, is actually, holding people accountable in some ways than he regulations themselves, because public scrutiny is really what, you know, holds these politicians accountable in the end. now, again, we're focused on facebook, but this is also an and twitter itter has visited capitol hill as well. julia: oh, absolutely. twitter and google, i think, russian adsund some on their platforms, and have about it.capitol hill i'm not sure that i have seen the same amount of promises from going tot how they are
clean things up but it's also not clear what the scope of the problem was there. there are ads, political ads on twitter. there are -- but they often are that, ublic in the sense you know, it's easier to get a sense of what's happening on almost because everything is publicly available there. same thing with google. those ads are public in the sense that, like, if you go ads utube and watch the that are playing before each video, you can get a better sense of it. targeted in some ways, but there is a little bit more transparency. facebook is such a closed system. really all you ever see of have on is what you your own feed. the least transparent and that's probably why it's under the most scruti scrutirecrui scrutiny. host: another report is about they are s and how monetized by the tech
companies? julia: this is becoming such a hot topic. tech r thought as a reporter that i would be dealing with nazis. that.t never thought about but basically, hate groups have found the internet to be a great and recruit new people to their causes, and so survey of all the different payment systems that groups to ng these paypal being ons, the leading one. after our report pay balance did hut down a bunch of the donation links for these sites. we used a list of sites that designate as hate by the anti-defamation league and then to ally, those hate sites, prove that they weren't hateful, launched a hate campaign against reporters, and then they sent us spam to our email to the point that our email was
down. host: julia angwin, what is it these issues on for propublica as opposed to the "wall street journal" where you spent 13 years? julia: you know what's great about propublica is the ability and to do aorations little bit more open-ended stuff, so, for instance, tool that we built, it's really a tool for crowd we wanted to so test it and we went to germany where they were having an in september and worked with three different newspapers there to have them promote the collectedeir readers, a whole bunch of german ads and then we're doing that in australia right now, during election. we're moving to a bunch of different countries. you know, we don't have to do reporting ourselves. one thing that's nice is expanding the idea of reporting just being the person to write an article, but in some ways what we're doing is just reporters tool that can use around the world, to monday or political ads in their elections.
i think that gives me great joy to be able to do that kind of in helping other reporters. host: will you be down in ashington november 1 for the big hearings with facebook, the congressional hearings? going tom probably not be there. i have this great luxury as an investigative reporter of not to do as much of the daily news coverage. mostly focus on projects and investigations of things that would otherwise not come out. so my definition of news that i something us on is that would never come out if i wasn't doing it, where as these whether will be covered or not i'm there. so i feel like it's best for me to stick to things that wouldn't be done otherwise. host: julie angwin's work at propublica is available online. for your time, and joining us on "the communicators." julia: thank you. on the d now joining us communicators is david mccabe h
axios.h axios: we hosted an event last week. we interviewed her for about a an hour focusing on the russian ad and one of the things hat stuck out was the obvious point from her that facebook as a core business isn't going to change. asked about target and she talked about the value of targeting. facebook's ad isn't going to change even if their message does. took note of,g we she was asked multiple times if there was overlap between the used by the trump campaign and that used by russian operatives and she answer.t host: why wouldn't she answer? the question ged multiple times. she didn't give a particular reason for why she wasn't clear answer on what the company has seen. obviously this is an ongoing investigation and it's not a
to go n that's going away. host: david mccabe, what's the response so far from congress on issue? david: congress remains very reoccupied by this question, particularly the democrats on the house and senate intelligence committee. those are two of the committees been briefed on the facebook ads and now have them possession, and so from congress, they have some follow-up questions about that. to know where the bhernl internal investigation is going and they want to know how it ill be prevented in future elections, perhaps as early as next month in virginia. host: this is almost a tech than a journalist ethics question, isn't it? you know, it's a question of how these systems work certainly. nd that's why they have received briefings from facebook staff. that's why you've seen facebook their technical experts to respond to this. alex -- the chief security
on facebook has become the huge public face of this and that's because, as you know, topic and a hnical complicated one. host: david mccabe, november 1 coming. what will happen on that day? that's when there will be a senate hearing on this featuring facebook and twitter. invited.s been there is also expected to be a house hearing that day. more abstract about that but you will see these companies respond directly o lawmakers' questions about this and particularly for facebook which has had this real asen dance over the last 5-10 years. hat is sentinel moment for them. they don't testify on capitol hill very often so it's a big deal that they are. a lot about alked acebook and we talked to julia angwin about facebook but this is not just facebook's issue, is it? david: it's not. it's obviously partially a google issue. google is the other big player
ad market.ne they said they found some ads associated with this effort. exposure because facebook has this possibility for something to go viral. go viral.n that's not how google works. twitter has some problems with bots and the potential russian operations on their platform. just today we saw a story that outbrain, which is a big advertising content referral is also looking into these questions. so certainly it's one that consumes the entire industry. fcc and ll we see the the fec at this hearing or perhaps some hearings at those commissions as well? david: the fcc, federal election ommission is doing some work around looking at whether or not there should be different disclosure requirements for ads.al one of the things that make this so complicated is there is not really a clear single regulator google and s like facebook and twitter. so actually the fcc doesn't have the ads so i ver
wouldn't expect them to be particularly involved in this right now. mccabe is with axios and he's been our guest on "the communicators." david: thank you as always, peter. "communicators," russia's involvement in the 2016 lection with propublica senior reporter julia angwin. julia: facebook has said they earned that a bunch of ads placed during the election were outfits under an anonymous accounts, and they divisive ads, y not necessarily, it seems like, candidate or another, but just aimed at charged ivisiveness on topics. >> watch "the communicators," on ay night at 8:00 eastern c-span 2. c-span, a discussion on freedom of the