Facebook, Twitter pledge to battle foreign intrusion
Facebook and Twitter executives assured Congress on Wednesday that they are aggressively working to root out foreign attempts to sow discord in America, and they pledged to better protect their social networks against manipulation during the 2018 midterm elections and beyond.
Facebook’s No. 2 executive, Sheryl Sandberg, and Twitter’s CEO, Jack Dorsey, testified before the Senate intelligence committee in the morning, but there was an empty chair for Google parent company Alphabet, which refused to send its top executive.
In the afternoon, Dorsey went before a House panel alone to address Republican concerns that Twitter is censoring conservatives. Dorsey denied that is happening.
The hearings come at a critical time, just two months before the midterm elections and as President Donald Trump has charged that Twitter is biased against Republican views.
Senators had sharp words for Alphabet CEO Larry Page. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., suggested the company was a no-show because it was “arrogant.”
Sandberg’s appearance came several months after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified at highly publicized Capitol Hill hearings.
Like Zuckerberg, she acknowledged Facebook’s lag in recognizing Russian efforts to manipulate Facebook during and after the 2016 presidential election. Sandberg detailed Facebook’s efforts to fight the problem with new technology and manpower.
“We are even more determined than our adversaries, and we will continue to fight back,” she said.
Dorsey was candid with both committees about what his company needs to improve, while defending Twitter against allegations of bias.
Holding his phone throughout the hearings, Dorsey tweeted some of his opening statement to the Senate: “We aren’t proud of how that free and open exchange has been weaponized and used to distract and divide people, and our nation. We found ourselves unprepared and ill-equipped for the immensity of the problems we’ve acknowledged.”
As the executives spoke, the Justice Department announced that it would look at whether their companies are hurting competition and “intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas on their platforms.”