Facebook, Twitter execs to face lawmakers over foreign influence operations

Alfred Osborne
September 5, 2018

"We were too slow to spot this and too slow to act", Sandberg will say. We aren't proud of how that free and open exchange has been weaponized and used to distract and divide people, and our nation.

Top Google officials, including Larry Page, CEO of parent company Alphabet, and Sundar Pichai, CEO of the Google brand, declined invitations from congressional leaders to testify at the hearings.

The Senate Intelligence Committee has been looking into efforts to influence United States public opinion for more than a year, after USA intelligence agencies concluded that Kremlin-backed entities sought to boost Republican President Donald Trump's chances of winning the White House in 2016. USA intelligence agencies have concluded that Russian Federation interfered in the 2016 campaign with the aim of tilting the election in Trump's favor, a finding that Moscow has denied.

Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook Inc., speaks during a news conference at Station F, a mega-campus for startups located inside a former freight railway depot, in Paris, Jan. 17, 2017. "It violated the values of our company and of the country we love".

Per Business Insider, Google Senior Vice President, Global Affairs and Chief Legal Officer Kent Walker sent written testimony that did not address the absence. Google says Walker will still submit testimony and brief members on the subject of the hearing, which is foreign influence operations and their use of social media platforms. "As we promised the committee previous year, we have now fulfilled all four of our commitments to provide increased transparency in election advertising".

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On bias, the Twitter CEO is aggressive in defending his company, saying in the prepared House testimony that he wants to be clear about one thing: "Twitter does not use political ideology to make any decisions, whether related to ranking content on our service or how we enforce our rules".

Twitter and Facebook have publicly denied repeated accusations from Trump and other Republicans that the companies deliberately hid conservative views and posts from right-leaning accounts and politicians, a tactic referred to as "shadow-banning".

Twitter's Dorsey will also appear before the House Energy & Commerce Committee Wednesday afternoon specifically to discuss Twitter's methodology in selecting what content a user sees.

"We believe strongly in being impartial, and we strive to enforce our rules impartially", Dorsey will tell lawmakers Wednesday, according to a copy of his prepared remarks released in advance.

Dorsey's comments come days after President Donald Trump accused technology firms of "censorship" and suppressing conservative voices.

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