Google, Facebook and Twitter called onto Congressional carpet for public hearing

Already facing grilling by the Senate Intelligence Committee over alleged Russian use of U.S. tech companies to influence the 2016 U.S. election, Google, Facebook and Twitter have been called to testify at an open hearing of the House Intelligence Committee, a new report said.

Questioning by both committees is scheduled for the same day, Nov. 1.

“The Senate and House intelligence committees are two of the main congressional panels probing allegations that Russia sought to interfere in the U.S. election to boost Republican President Donald Trump’s chances at winning the White House, and possible collusion between Trump associates and Russia,” Reuters reported Oct. 5, basing news of the House committee’s move on an unnamed congressional aide.

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Facebook confirmed to Reuters that it would testify. Google and Twitter did not immediately respond to requests from the news service for comment.

In response to the conclusion by major U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia tried to hack the election, and revelations that implicated Facebook and Twitter, Google is probing its systems to find out if Russia-connected individuals or groups used its ads or services to influence the election.

The two social media companies have already been providing information to congressional investigators. Facebook has turned over more than 3,000 ads that are likely linked to Russia. Twitter told investigators it had yanked 201 accounts linked to Russian entities that had bought ads on Facebook. Twitter also said the Kremlin-linked website RT (Russia Today) spent $274,100 for U.S. ads in 2016.

Federal lawmakers’ worries about Russian election interference have also led to two senators proposing a law to force the three Silicon Valley firms, and other digital advertising companies, to publicly disclose information about election ads.

 

Photo: Mark Zuckerberg holds up a propeller pod for the Aquila drone at Facebook’s F8 Developers Conference on April 12, 2016, in San Francisco. The lightweight plane is being designed to deliver internet connectivity to other parts of the world.(Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

 

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