Top executives from Facebook and Twitter were yesterday to defend their companies in a US congressional hearing over what lawmakers see as a failure to combat continuing foreign efforts to influence US politics.
Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, who was to testify alongside Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, was expected to acknowledge to the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that the company was too slow to respond to Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 US presidential election and in US society, but insist that it is doing better.
“We’ve removed hundreds of pages and accounts involved in coordinated inauthentic behavior — meaning they misled others about who they were and what they were doing,” Sandberg said in written testimony that was released on Tuesday.
Facebook, Twitter and other technology firms have over the past several months been on the defensive over political influence activity on their sites, as well as concerns over user privacy.
Their executives have traveled to Washington several times to testify in US Congress, including 10 hours of questioning of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg over two days in April.
The committee has been looking into Russian efforts to influence US public opinion throughout US President Donald Trump’s presidency, after US intelligence agencies concluded that entities backed by the Kremlin had sought to boost his chances of winning the White House in 2016.
Moscow has denied involvement and Trump — backed by some of his fellow Republicans in Congress — has repeatedly dismissed investigations of the issue as a partisan “witch hunt” or a hoax.
Some Republicans have also charged social media companies with bias against Trump and other conservatives.
Dorsey was to follow his Senate testimony yesterday morning with an appearance at an afternoon hearing looking at that issue in the US House of Representatives.
Dorsey was to tell the House Committee on Energy and Commerce that Twitter “does not use political ideology to make any decisions,” according to written testimony also made public on Tuesday.
Trump on July 26 faulted Twitter, without citing any evidence, for limiting the visibility of prominent Republicans through a practice known as “shadow banning.”
Trump last week accused Google’s search engine of promoting negative news articles and hiding “fair media” coverage of him, vowing to address the situation without providing evidence or giving details of action he might take.
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