U.S. lawmakers grilled executives from Facebook and Twitter about international efforts to disrupt U.S. elections and the companies’ ability to stop interference.
At the end of the hearing, there was an ominous warning that regulation may be coming to social media.
CGTN’s Sean Callebs has the details.
The tone, from lawmakers to social media giants, was set early.
Just two months out from the mid-term elections U.S. Senator Richard Barr voiced concern, saying “Unfortunately what I described as a national security vulnerability and an unacceptable risk back in November remains unaddressed.”
Nearly two years ago, Donald Trump was thrust into leadership.
But what effect did Russian meddling have in the presidential race?
Despite Russian denial, just last month the Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said Moscow is continuing to spread the kind of mayhem it did ahead of the 2016 vote.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey testified, “We found ourselves unprepared and ill-equipped for the immensity of the problems that we have acknowledged.”
Those problems are now well identified, misinformation, troll armies, abuse, bots, harassment. In the aftermath, Facebook said it shut down a whopping 1.27 billion fake accounts.
The COO of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg told the committee, “When content violated our policies we will take it down. And, when our opponents use new techniques we will share them so we can strengthen our collective efforts.”
Congress wanted to quiz Google’s CEO, but instead found an empty chair.
“I am deeply disappointed in Google, one of the most influential digital platforms in the world chose not to send its own top leadership,” Vice-Chair of the Senate Committee Mark Warner said.
What they got instead was a statement from Google legal counsel Kent Walker, saying that Google “continued to work to identify and remove actors from our products who mislead other regarding their identity, including the Internet Research Agency and other Russian and Iranian-affiliated entities.
Republicans in Congress are concerned that social media sites have a built-in bias against conservative voices in the United States.
While Twitter and Facebook deny the charge, Warner bristled and said, “the era of the Wild West in social media is coming to an end.”
And the situation could be getting dramatically worse for social media entities.
After the hearing, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he was launching an investigation to see whether social media giants are deliberately hampering conservative voices – a warning that regulation of social media, is a possibility.
Lester Munson discusses Wednesday’s social media hearings
CGTN’s Rachelle Akuffo spoke with Lester Munson, principal in International at BGR Group about the social media landscape and President Trump’s unprecedented use of the sites.
Mary Curtis discusses social media bias
CGTN’s Mike Walter spoke to Mary Curtis about the hearing of social media giants on Capitol Hill. Curtis is an award-winning journalist, regular contributor on major U.S. media and columnist with Roll Call newspaper.