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

06 September, 2018, 02:04 | Author: Arnold Gilbert
  • US-IT-MEDIA-POLITICS-INTERNET-COMPUTERS-ESPIONAGE

In August, Twitter came under fire from its users and even from some employees for not joining numerous top social media platforms in banning Alex Jones.

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, who testified alongside Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey, acknowledged to the Senate Intelligence Committee that the company was too slow to respond to Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election and general American political discourse, but insisted it is doing better. Instead, a spokesperson for the committee said they may just leave a chair empty next to Sandberg and Dorsey.

"We were too slow to spot this and too slow to act", Sandberg will say.

Dorsey said it was "unacceptable" that she was not told.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.) grilled Twitter and Facebook about the ways in which they share personal information with advertisers and others.

The news is the latest sign that the U.S. government, which has so far been reluctant to regulate internet companies, is scrutinising them more closely.

FILE PHOTO: Jack Dorsey, CEO and co-founder of Twitter and founder and CEO of Square, speaks at the Consensus 2018 blockchain technology conference in New York City, New York, U.S., May 16, 2018.

Dorsey and Sandberg agreed that fake accounts are the root of many of their problems.

The other executive is chief legal officer and senior vice president of global affairs Kent Walker. And Facebook's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, ran the gauntlet of the House and Senate in April, following the revelations of the Cambridge Analytica data harvesting operation.

The hearing comes after months of bruising scandals for Facebook, including the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which as many as 87 million users had their information improperly obtained, and further revelations around Russian misuse of the platform to interfere with the 2016 United States presidential election. Facebook also is recommending alternate news sources to those users it feels are sharing "fake news".

The hearing was interrupted by a protester who shouted that Twitter's Dorsey was lying, accusing him of banning conservatives and saying the platform was going to help Democrats "steal" the November elections.

In prepared remarks released Tuesday by the Energy and Commerce Committee, Dorsey said his company "does not use political ideology to make any decisions, whether related to ranking content on our service or how we enforce our rules".

In the statement, a shorter version of which Sandberg will read Wednesday, Sandberg outlines steps Facebook is taking to prevent future foreign meddling in elections through its platform.

"Over the last 18 months we've met with dozens of Committee Members and briefed major Congressional Committees numerous times on our work to prevent foreign interference in USA elections", a Google spokesperson said in an email.

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