Published: Thu, September 06, 2018
IT | By Jonathon Greene

Facebook, Twitter defend efforts to stop election meddling

Facebook, Twitter defend efforts to stop election meddling

The committee invited Larry Page, the CEO of Google's parent company, Alphabet, but the company said it would send a lower-ranking executive instead.

Many senators expressed anger at Google, which was represented in the hearing room by an empty chair next to Sandberg.

Senate Intelligence has been looking into Russian efforts to influence USA public opinion throughout Trump's presidency, after us intelligence agencies concluded that Kremlin-backed entities sought to boost his chances of winning the White House in 2016.

Over the a year ago, Facebook and Twitter have each launched public campaigns (and some not so public) to fight back against "inauthentic" accounts believed to be linked not only to Russian Federation, but to other malicious actors like Iran. "And that's not possible right now", she said. "That's on us. This interference was completely unacceptable. It violated the values of our company and of the country we love".

"We're shutting down fake accounts and reducing the spread of false news", Sandberg said.

Sandberg could also face questions related to concerns over Facebook users' privacy.

"I'm deeply disappointed that Google - one of the most influential digital platforms in the world - chose not to send its own top corporate leadership to engage this committee", said Sen.

A spokesperson for Twitter declined to comment, but in past hearings Twitter officials have affirmed the gravity of the situation.

Democrats panned the GOP for drumming out outrage toward Twitter and pointed to President Trump's repeated use of the platform to "bully" critics.

"We've learned from 2016 [US presidential polls] and more recently from other nation's elections how to help protect the integrity of our elections", Dorsey said.

In prepared remarks for Wednesday's hearing, Facebook's No. 2 executive, Sheryl Sandberg, details many ways the company is addressing the problem but reiterates that the company was slow to spot it. Facebook also is recommending alternate news sources to those users it feels are sharing "fake news".

In a House of Representatives hearing, Representative Greg Walden, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, said Twitter had made "mistakes" that, he said, minimized Republicans' presence on the social media site, a practice conservatives have labeled "shadow banning".

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

"We aren't proud of how that free and open exchange has been weaponized and used to distract and divide people, and our nation", Dorsey said. "We believe strongly in being impartial, and we strive to enforce our rules impartially".

In the statement, a shorter version of which Sandberg will read Wednesday, Sandberg outlines steps Facebook is taking to prevent future foreign meddling in elections through its platform.

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