Facebook, Twitter face congressional hearings on political bias, fake news

Thursday, 06 Sep, 2018

Sheryl Sandberg will tell the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday that Facebook was "too slow to spot" Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election and "too slow to act", according to an opening statement the Facebook chief operating officer released Tuesday.

The Twitter CEO will be facing the US Congress in another session separate from the hearing with Google and Facebook executives. Follow the live blog below. The report gave no other details.

"These are expensive investments, but that will not stop us because we know they are critical, she said".

The companies have conveyed to the commission that all sponsored content in favour of a political party, political leader or candidate will flag the concerned sponsor and the amount paid for posting the content on Facebook, WhatsApp (owned by Facebook), Google or Twitter.

Much of the drama came after the hearing in an adjacent hallway, where Infowars founder Alex Jones confronted Rubio, asking him about First Amendment rights and social media.

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

But President Trump and a number of Republicans have prioritized concern that tech companies discriminate against conservatives with bias in treatment and so-called "shadow banning".

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The Twitter CEO will also make a solo appearance before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, where Dorsey is expected to face tough questioning on allegations that the social platform has suppressed conservative voices.

"Twitter does not use political ideology to make any decisions, whether related to ranking content on our service or how we enforce our rules", Dorsey said in prepared remarks to a congressional hearing with United States technology giants.

In the Senate, both Burr and Warner pressed the social media companies to do more. Instead, a spokesperson for the committee said they may just leave a chair empty next to Sandberg and Dorsey.

Google's offer to send a less senior executive was turned down by the committee and Marco Rubio, a Republican senator from Florida, suggested that their...

Google, which was also invited to the hearing, did not send a representative.

In a statement to HuffPost, Google said it's been diligent in briefing lawmakers on the political interference issue in the past.

In recent weeks Facebook has revealed the existence of multiple influence operations meant to influence politics in a manner similar to Russia's 2016 intervention, aimed at the USA, as well as other countries around the world.