Congress Wants Tighter Regulation of Social Media Giants Ahead of Midterm Elections

Congress Wants Tighter Regulation of Social Media Giants Ahead of Midterm Elections

This morning, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg appeared before the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee to discuss foreign interference, specifically from Russian Federation, in U.S. elections via social media.

"Our adversaries are determined, creative, and well-funded".

Twitter Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey said in his prepared remarks that a "relatively small number of bad-faith actors were able to game Twitter to have an outsized impact".

Dorsey will testify on Capitol Hill Wednesday. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified to Congress about Facebook's role in the 2016 election in April. Mark Warner (D-VA). He wants new regulations for these companies.

The three internet-based companies have in their interactions with the EC over the past months also agreed to observe a 48-hour "silence period" prior to polling and ensure no political advertisements are put up online during this time.

Dorsey was responding to a question from California Representative Doris Matsui during a House Committee on Energy and Commerce hearing that focused on user privacy protections, misinformation, content moderation and alleged bias against political conservatives on Twitter. Some Republicans, including President Trump, have pushed the idea ahead of the elections that Twitter is "shadow banning" some in the GOP because of the ways search results have appeared. Twitter denies that's happening. "Because I know our members have a series of hard questions about structural vulnerabilities on a number of Google's platforms that we will need answered".

Google too was to be present at this hearing, but the company did not send a senior executive. The committee rejected that offer.

"Unfortunately, what I described as a 'national security vulnerability, ' and 'unacceptable risk, ' back in November remains unaddressed", Senator Richard Burr, the committee's Republican chairman, said.

"You don't understand the problem if you don't see this as a large effort from whole of government and the private sector", Burr told reporters at the Senate.

The companies have made many policy changes, and have caught and banned malicious accounts over the past year. Still, their business models - free services that rely on attracting as many users as possible for as long as possible and finding out as much about them as possible - remain the same, and that posed challenges.

In prepared testimony released by Facebook Tuesday, Sandberg said that Facebook was "too slow to spot" Russia's purported influence operation and "too slow to act".

The Senate Intelligence Committee has been looking into reported Russian efforts to influence USA public opinion throughout Trump's presidency, after US intelligence agencies concluded that entities backed by the Kremlin had sought to boost his chances of winning the White House in 2016.

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