Twitter, Facebook and Google To Testify Before Congress

Executives of social media firms such as Twitter and Facebook as well as Google’s have been requested by congressmen to testify concerning the issue of Russian involvement in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The executives were already scheduled to appear before the Intelligence Committee of the U.S. Senate which is also conducting investigation over the role of Russia. This comes in the wake of lawmakers in the United States getting increasingly alarmed about evidence pointing to the fact that fake news was used to influence the election last year.

This comes a couple of days after Facebook, which had previously admitted that entities connected to Russia were used to buy ads on the social media platform and which were aimed at influencing the election in favor of Donald Trump, would hand over the ads to Congress.

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Facebook agreed to turn over the ads after congressional investigators complained since it had only shown them but not handed them over.

“We are sharing these ads with Congress because we want to do our part to help investigators gain a deeper understanding of Russian interference in the US political system and explain those activities to the public,” the global public policy vice president at Facebook, Joel Kaplan, said in a statement.

At the same time Facebook disclosed that the ads that were aimed at influencing the 2016 election were viewed by approximately ten million Americans. Some of the people saw the ads after the election. About 25% of the adverts were never run.

Tightening policies

According to Facebook it is also working to tighten policies with a view to ensuring that such interference does not happen again. This includes providing users with more information on the ads that are presented to them.

Leaders of the House and Senate Intelligence committees have voiced complaints that social media firms are not cooperating with the investigations as they should. A ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, said that various important questions regarding Russian activities on social media aimed at influencing the election remained unanswered. Schiff, a Democrat of California, said the committee was for instance interested in knowing which demographics were heavily targeted on social media and the reason why.