Facebook, Twitter defend efforts to stop election meddling

Pauline Obrien
September 5, 2018

Though no Google representative is expected to testify as of this report, in a blog post Tuesday Google Senior Vice President for Global Affairs and Chief Legal Officer Kent Walker said he would still be in Washington to separately brief lawmakers on Google's efforts and will be submitting written testimony to the Senate committee.

In a statement, Twitter denied Dorsey was involved in either decision.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg appeared at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Wednesday to answer questions about foreign interference on their platforms aimed at disrupting US politics.

Google, which declined to send its CEO, Sundar Pichai, or co-founder and Alphabet CEO, Larry Page, was notably absent, an empty chair and nameplate providing a constant visual reminder of the snub. That scrutiny has led to additional criticism over the companies' respect for user privacy and whether conservatives are being censored.

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Sandberg is scheduled to appear before the lawmakers as a representative of Facebook alongside Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey Wednesday morning.

Another, more complex, issue may arise when Mr Dorsey testifies later in the afternoon in front of the House Energy.

Trump faulted Twitter on July 26, without citing any evidence, for limiting the visibility of prominent Republicans through a practice known as shadow banning.

Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg says the company is getting better at finding and combating adversaries who try to use the platform. Richard Burr, R-N.C., said Google doesn't "understand the problem" if it doesn't want to work with the government to find solutions.

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Ohr's wife, Nellie, who worked for the political research firm, Fusion GPS, that hired Steele, attended at least part of it. Mr Trump singled out Justice Department official Bruce Ohr in a message on Twitter, apparently quoting a Fox News analyst.

A year ago, big technology companies disclosed that Russian-backed actors had manipulated their platforms in hopes of swaying the election.

The companies have made many policy changes, and have caught and banned malicious accounts over the past year.

Only Dorsey was invited to the House hearing after specific Republican concerns about bias on Twitter.

Dorsey said Twitter has continued to identify accounts that may be linked to the same Russian internet agency as identified in Mueller's indictment.

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To kick off his opening statement, Dorsey picked up his phone and said he would be tweeting out his prepared testimony.

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