Tuesday, 20 November, 2018

Facebook, Twitter execs to face lawmakers over foreign influence operations

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey reportedly stepped in to save Alex Jones Richard Spencer from bans Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey reportedly overruled his staff's decision to ban Alex Jones
| 06 September, 2018, 01:20

3D-printed Facebook and Twitter logos are seen in this picture illustration made in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina on January 26, 2016.

Conservative Republicans in Congress have, however, criticized social media companies for what they say are politically motivated practices in removing some content, a charge the companies have repeatedly rejected.

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey are expected to answer questions from the Senate Intelligence Committee starting at 9:30 a.m.

Before the hearing, President Donald Trump, without offering evidence, accused the companies themselves of interfering in the upcoming USA mid-term elections, telling the Daily Caller that social media firms are "super liberal". US 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.

Dorsey acknowledged Twitter had made mistakes and said they corrected them.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing will focus only on bias by Twitter and the platform's algorithms.

Lawmakers on Wednesday grilled top executives from Facebook and Twitter about their efforts to prevent foreign governments from influencing us politics, but they saved their harshest criticism for Google and its decision not to send a top representative to testify on Capitol Hill.


Senator Richard Burr, the committee's Republican chairman, said he expected the hearing would focus on solutions to the problem of foreign efforts to influence US elections and sow political discord, with a jab at Google.

Sandberg's appearance came several months after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified in highly publicized Capitol Hill hearings. Some Republicans, including President Trump, have pushed the idea ahead of the elections that Twitter is "shadow banning" some in the GOP because of the ways search results have appeared. Jones railed on the government, media and social media companies for more than 40 minutes in the hallway as the hearing began, and later took a seat in the hearing room.

The committee invited Larry Page, the CEO of Google's parent company Alphabet.

Republicans control majorities in both the Senate and House, but the House's approach to the election issue has been far more partisan than the Senate's. Instead, a spokesperson for the committee said they may just leave a chair empty next to Sandberg and Dorsey.

"I'm disappointed Google decided against sending the right senior level executive", committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said in his opening remarks.

Lawmakers also criticized Alphabet Inc's (GOOGL.O) Google for refusing to send top executives to testify in the Senate on foreign efforts to influence USA politics, with just weeks before the November 6 congressional elections.

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