What Sheryl Sandberg will tell Congress about Facebook and Russian Federation

Sep 06, 2018, 13:46
What Sheryl Sandberg will tell Congress about Facebook and Russian Federation

The Senate hearing focused primarily on the use of social media by Russian Federation and other foreign actors in the 2016 election, with executives promising to do more to combat such meddling in the future.

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.

"We've learned from 2016 and more recently from other nation's elections how to help protect the integrity of our elections", he said.

Dorsey was headed later Wednesday to a House committee focused on GOP complaints that social media companies have shown evidence of bias against conservatives. But free services that find out as much about users as possible remain unchanged, prompting critics to say social media companies will continue to contend with bad actors manipulating their systems unless they change.

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We must ask the question 'what is Twitter incentivising people to do (or not do), and why?' The answers will lead to tectonic shifts in how Twitter, and our industry, operates. He acknowledged that the company's systems now place the burden of reporting threats on the victim, but said Twitter is committed to "build algorithms to proactively look for when these things are occurring and take action".

"This interference was completely unacceptable".

Google, which was also invited to the hearing, did not send a representative.

Executives from the companies, which have repeatedly denied political bias, have traveled to Washington several times to testify in Congress, including 10 hours of questioning of Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg over two days in April.

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Google, however, risks having an empty chair at the hearing after cofounder Larry Page declined to appear.

In a written statement, Google chief legal officer Kent Walker promised to maintain efforts to thwart foreign interference in USA elections.

But Mr Joe Barton, a Republican from Texas, told Mr Dorsey: "We wouldn't be having this discussion if there wasn't a general agreement that your company had discriminated against conservatives".

Dorsey said Twitter was working on a new type of transparency report (which would go onto its transparency subsite) focusing on quantifying instances of abuse and what's been done to stop abuse.

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Dorsey will then participate in a second hearing Wednesday afternoon before the House Energy & Commerce Committee, where he is set to discuss the algorithms Twitter uses to serve content on users' Twitter feeds and "content monitoring".

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