Here are the Russia-linked Facebook ads released by Congress

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"We expect more scrutiny about Facebook's ad system ahead", analyst Debra Aho Williamson of research firm eMarketer said in a note.

Warner's fellow Democrats were similarly tough on the companies.

Sen. Richard Burr, a Republican who chairs the committee, went so far as to suggest Congress could supply the companies with "anti-trust waivers" to allow them to collaborate in confronting foreign meddling. Dianne Feinstein said. "The question comes, for me, I represent them, I'd like very much to sit down with the CEO and, you know, have a conversation about this". What we're talking about is the beginning of cyber-warfare.

In addition to these crude and clumsy efforts, The New York Times has noted a hoax that anyone familiar with American politics would recognize as utterly implausible, language on the DCLeaks website that described Clinton as "President of the Democratic Party" and referred to her "electional staff", and a tweet promoting the website that said, "These guys show hidden truth about Hillary Clinton, George Soros and other leaders of the USA". US lawmakers have threatened tougher regulation and fired questions at Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch in hearings this week. We're serious about preventing abuse on our platforms.

"Facebook enabled that event to happen and I would say Facebook has failed their goal", Burr said.

The ad was targeted at people who had expressed interest in Donald Trump or his son Donald Trump Jr. on Facebook and ran for three days at the start of August 2016. Content generated by the Kremlin-linked troll farm known as the Internet Research Agency reached almost 150 million people through Facebook and Instagram, he said.

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"We have found that foreign actors have used fake accounts to place ads on Facebook and Instagram that reached millions of Americans", said Facebook's general counsel Colin Stretch.

Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford, a Republican, argued that the committee wasn't likely to get different answers from CEOs than from the general counsel.

"This is bigger than any one company", Stretch said at one point.

The political ads also tried to lure in Christian worshippers. Facebook had previously disclosed that 126 million accounts were served that content on Facebook.

In the past six months, a growing body of evidence has revealed the extent to which the Kremlin used major social media platforms to influence the 2016 presidential election. One page, which included an eagle alongside American flags, was called "Being Patriotic".

Republicans continued to downplay the role Russians had in the United States presidential election and said their main goal was the sow social discord and fan the flames of division in the US.

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