Next Time Bring CEOs, Lawmakers Tell Facebook, Google, Twitter

Congress looks into Russian social media meddling

Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) told Twitter, Google and Facebook on Wednesday afternoon that he believes Russian Federation got a "free pass" for the interference it caused on American social media giants' platform ahead of the 2016 election and other campaigns it has waged.

In addition to these crude and clumsy efforts, The New York Times has noted a hoax that anyone familiar with American politics would recognize as utterly implausible, language on the DCLeaks website that described Clinton as "President of the Democratic Party" and referred to her "electional staff", and a tweet promoting the website that said, "These guys show hidden truth about Hillary Clinton, George Soros and other leaders of the USA". James Risch (R-Idaho) said.

Lawmakers demanded answers Wednesday from leading social media companies about why they haven't done more to combat Russian interference on their sites, and said congressional action might be needed in response to what one Democrat called "the start of cyberwarfare" against American democracy.

The Senate Intelligence Committee hearing proved far more explosive than a similar hearing Tuesday by the Senate Judiciary Committee, with senators accusing the social media companies of permitting a flood of Russian-sponsored disinformation aimed at USA voters.

Burr said more ads were targeted toward Maryland, a solidly Democratic state.

Sen. Mark Warner, the committee's vice chairman, showed the illustration, shared by the Russia-affiliated "Army of Jesus", as evidence of how Russian actors used social networking posts and online ads to sow divisiveness and spread propaganda.

According to data released by the House Intelligence Committee, the troll group spent more than $2,500 in 2015 and 2016, paid in rubles, promoting this ad.

"You created these platforms and now they are being misused".

Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch told the committee that 16 million Americans may have been exposed to Russian information on its picture-sharing service Instagram beginning in October 2016. The account also promoted Florida Trump rallies. Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the committee, said at the hearing that the committee still expects to release all of the ads eventually.

The political ads also tried to lure in Christian worshippers. Burr, a North Carolina Republican, said during Wednesday's hearing.

Lawyers for Facebook, Twitter and Google were repeatedly criticized by lawmakers for what they portrayed as a lack of effort in addressing foreign meddling on their platforms in the past and pressed to account for what steps they would take in the future.

Sean Edgett, Twitter's acting general counsel, said less than 5 percent of its accounts were automated.

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