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Facebook's ad issues are a 'complete and utter disaster' for the company, Silicon Valley investor says

  • Earlier this month, Facebook announced that the company had sold more than $100,000 in ads to Russian operatives during the 2016 election.
  • Tech investor Jason Calacanis called for the release of the ads, which Facebook has so far declined to make public.
  • Calacanis called it a "lack of leadership" on the part of CEO Mark Zuckerberg and said his current tour of all 50 states is an "apology tour."
Jason Calacanis
Adam Jeffery | CNBC
Jason Calacanis

With Facebook still under fire after inadvertently selling ads to Russian operatives during the 2016 election, the mood in both Silicon Valley and Washington is shifting against the company.

"This is a complete and utter disaster for Zuckerberg and Facebook," tech investor Jason Calacanis said Thursday on CNBC's "Squawk Alley."

Calacanis called it a "lack of leadership" on the part of CEO Mark Zuckerberg to claim the election could not be affected when it's now become clear, he said, that "the Russians were buying ads and probably using stolen data to target it to swing states."

Facebook first announced the company had sold more than $100,000 in ads to Russian operatives earlier this month, spurring a media storm and Senate investigations. The ads were targeted to Facebook users who expressed extremist views and were political in nature.

Facebook has so far declined to release the ads.

"Why can't Zuckerberg release the ads that the Russians bought?" Calacanis asked. "Why can't we see them when they could cash the checks of Russians?"

Calacanis criticized Zuckerberg's recent tour of all 50 states, saying the CEO isn't trying to understand people better, as he's claimed, but instead trying to quell anger for what could be revealed about Facebook's role in the election.

"When the American people see these ads, they're going to realize that Zuckerberg going after these 50 states — he's on an apology tour," Calacanis said. "It's disgusting."

The early Uber investor and founder of Inside.com called for a conversation about regulations on the internet giant because, he said, "they have no ability to regulate themselves."

Facebook did not respond to a request for comment.