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Facebook, Google and Twitter Offering Testimony On Russian Election Interference

by Countable | 10.31.17

What’s the story?

Three tech giants testifying at three congressional hearings will dominate the news cycle Tuesday and Wednesday. Top lawyers from Facebook, Google and Twitter are expected to field questions on how their platforms were used to allow Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and how they are planning to prevent such interference in the future.

NBC News describes the proceedings as likely to be a push-pull between the companies’ desire to provide crucial information for the congressional Russia probes and their desire to head off at the pass any attempts at significant changes to regulations:

"The hearings are part public investigation and part political performance art. On the one hand, they're a chance to get deeper answers on the record from the social media giants about the depth and scope of Russian meddling.

But they're also an opportunity for Silicon Valley to appear contrite and say they're "taking it seriously" by implementing proactive measures — thereby tempering any aggressive outside regulatory push."

Tuesday at 2:30 PM EDT company lawyers will testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Wednesday will bring two more hearings — the Senate Intelligence Committee at 9:30 AM EDT and the House Intelligence Committee at 2 PM EDT.

All three companies are expected to answer questions each hearing on how exactly their platforms were used to spread disinformation to the public, when they knew what was occurring, what they did about it, and what they plan to do to prevent such interference happening again.

A Washington Post report on Monday, based on draft testimonies obtained in advance of the hearings, revealed that the reach of Russian election interference was much more extensive than previously reported. According to the documents, as many as 126 million users may have encountered free content posted to Facebook by a Russian troll farm. Google also found 43 hours of content from Russian operatives distributed for free through YouTube.

Twitter has already disclosed the extensive use of their platform to disseminate ads and bots and other messaging methods. They have rolled out an new ad policy that they will likely testify about in addition to reflecting on the election interference.

What do you think?

Are you going to be watching the testimony? Is there a particular committee hearing your keeping an eye on? Why? What questions do you want the company lawyers to answer? Do you think tighter regulation of the platforms is warranted, given what we know already about Russian election interference, or not?

Tell us in the comments what you think, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Pixabay / Creative Commons)

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(74)
  • Hillary
    10/31/2017
    ···

    If we (the people) really want this kind of immoral influence to stop then we must vote to remove every single cent of any political donation from our government. Zero political contributions from any person, PAC, company, lobbyist to any person, PAC, candidate, party, politician. If there were no money to be made on political ads then we wouldn’t be looking at this now. This country spends billions on getting their candidate elected and that is obscene. If in the next presidential election alone we made new laws that said every candidate will be given equal air time to make their objectives and positions known, equal internet space on a government website to post their platform, equal print space to post their platform then we would have enough to restore Puerto Rico, Texas, Florida and other areas hit by the hurricanes. Enough to help the victims of the California fires. A big plus would be not being force fed vicious, lying attack ads every 30 seconds! And yet, I don’t really hear anything from politicians about doing this. Ending Citizens United would be a good first step but that isn’t really remotely enough.

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  • bmccreanor
    10/31/2017
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    Unfortunately, none of this matters. People make up stories that are not real and spread them on social media. You cannot stop the spread of misinformation and falsehoods on the Internet. There are a handful of phenomenal outlets that get to these stories as fast as possible and fact check them, but the issue is that there is more misinformation coming too fast than there are these outlets—the good guys can’t keep up. Not all misinformation and false stories are created by Russians. This is pervasive. A lack of education and logic is the core issue, because gullible, ignorant people believe these stories and allow the misinformation and falsehoods to sway their opinion on a matter. It is sad but true. You cannot stop the spread of false information on the internet. You can only educate yourself and use solid logic and reason to formulate your stance and opinion. I realize that is easier said than done.

    Like (47)
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  • Christine
    10/31/2017
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    Please hold tech companies accountable for strict oversight of who is buying ads on their platforms. facebook, twitter and google need to be sanctioned and/or fined for allowing Russian rubles to influence our American election. This must stop.

    Like (37)
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  • Deanna
    10/31/2017
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    Does anyone really believe anything that NBC or the Washington Post writes about?

    Like (29)
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  • Marianne
    10/31/2017
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    We must have a full and comprehensive inquiry into the ways that foreign powers impacted our 2016 presidential election. This is imperative for the security of future elections. Similarly, we must update our campaign finance and advertising laws to ensure that all paid candidate promotion is transparent and clearly attributed to the funding source. We must also repeal Citizens United.This is necessary to reduce the manipulation of our elections and the electorate. This is a serious matter and must be addressed aggressively. Thank you.

    Like (26)
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  • Bluewitsend
    10/31/2017
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    We have to find out how much internet companies helped knowingly or unknowingly compromise our elections. A Capitalist society should be aware of the pitfalls of their products and be held responsible for harm they cause society’s structure. Ethical businesses and business practices must be of the highest importance. Accountability and Responsibility must be expected and set as high a goal as profits. They should be demanded by consumers. Money cannot be allowed to be the total endgame in priorities. Our democracy cannot survive without principles.

    Like (11)
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  • Sandra
    10/31/2017
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    Who in the HELL is anyone like GOOGLE FACEBOOK AND TWITTER talking about anyone influencing the elections! These are 3 of the WORST COMPANIES in America that tried to alter the outcome! I am 51 and have NEVER in my entire life seen such a biased and one-sided AGENDA PUSHING Media. Now they want to testify about Russia... Really? If anyone should know about altering the outcome they should!!!!

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  • Dawn
    10/31/2017
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    Re: Russians using social media. I believe critical thinking needs to be taught to every American. We have let our minds go soft and don’t often think deeply about important things. If we taught this in schools, along with anger management, we’d be a much better nation!

    Like (8)
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  • Beth
    10/31/2017
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    They are media companies and therefore should be regulated

    Like (7)
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  • Jacob
    10/31/2017
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    For those of you who say that this is just a diversion please do your research. As of August 2017, two-thirds (67%) of Americans report that they get at least some of their news on social media – with two-in-ten doing so often, according to a new survey from Pew Research Center. This is a modest increase since early 2016, when (during the height of the presidential primaries) 62% of U.S. adults reported getting news from social media. This is a major problem and these companies frankly need to do a better job of vetting information.

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  • Lexpost
    10/31/2017
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    When it’s something they want to do, like make oodles of money, there is nothing they can’t do. When it comes to the good of the country, all of a sudden it’s, oh that’s too hard, or that’s impossible. The internet was created by all of us, through our taxes, they (the companies) had nothing to do with its creation. They should put the country first, once in a while. Twitter’s “plan” to keep an eye out for a month or two before an election is complete B.S.

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  • Andrew
    10/31/2017
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    Social media needs to be more regulated like cable television because it has was too much sway on people’s views without any accountability. This is seen with how much we are finding out that Russia more and more influenced last year’s election through social media.

    Like (6)
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  • Kathy
    10/31/2017
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    If we can only figure out how to get fools and ignorant people from believing every thing they find on the internet without doing some personal research. This is absolutely how POTUS got elected...misinformation, outright lies and manipulation of information for personal gain. It is easy to manipulate people who are not smart enough to read and look for information. Whip up the base with false promises, ‘alternative reality’. Call journalists fake and Fox real...no wonder so many people have been willing to support a liar. They do not know truth from falsehood.

    Like (4)
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  • Eric
    10/31/2017
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    There is a very very simple solution to this problem. End "Citizens United" and make political manipulation and bribery illegal again.

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  • Steve
    10/31/2017
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    No I am not going to watch any of the investigations because for the past few months there has been nothing but speculation and false news. In my opinion, nothing has changed. Totally ridiculous!!

    Like (4)
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  • Dicr
    10/31/2017
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    Republicans need to stand up to Trump and do something about Russian interference in our elections or be voted out of office.

    Like (3)
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  • Diane
    10/31/2017
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    Yeah, lock them up with trump & republicans. What a disgrace & republicans keep covering up treason & crimes by the trump crime family & Russians.

    Like (3)
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  • Livia
    10/31/2017
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    Do you really believe, anything on Facebook or Twitter or any other news media influenced a vote on the presidential election? How stupid do you think Americans are? Or that the Russians wanted. Pres. Trump to to win the election? Mr. Trump, did not sell uranium to the Russians, nor did his wife make a speech in Russia and make a make half million dollars,!!! What the American people want, is what has been taken away from us, for more than take 24 years, we want jobs back in America, we want our inner structure fixed, we want stronger immigration laws, we want the border wall, we want better healthcare, we want a better tax system, we are tired of paying for everything, even Washington voting in their own pay raise, we want to stop paying , we are tired of getting nothing , tired of paying for football stadiums they get 70% in grants with our tax dollars, that's why Pres. Trump was elected, so you can take all the bull and shove it where the sun doesn't shine, Hillary Clinton was not elected because we did not want the same old crap, we want to change what in Washington we the people do not trust democrats or Republicans that's why Donald Trump was elected, and I would like to know who's going to investigate the investigator, if he is really doing his job, and a lot more should be brought out, about Obama Hillary Clinton, I for one am of hearing about Russia, the crap with the Russia has been going on for years and years, if you want to know about collusion you can find it's in our government it's in the Democrats and Republicans it's in the leaks in Washington no one can be trusted there that's why Donald Trump was elected,

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  • Terry
    10/31/2017
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    I use 2 of the 3 and I seen NO Russian interference ? Are we being manipulated by our Govt. again ?

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  • linksith
    10/31/2017
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    Does any of this really matter? It doesn't change anything at this point. Forget it and get off this mouse wheel!

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