Facebook, Twitter, and Google to testify information on Russia’s interference with the 2017 U.S. Presidential Election. This 2-day congressional hearing starts Tuesday at 2:30 pm EST on MSNBC. In the midst of it all, former Trump campaign lobbyists, George Papadopoulos, Rick Gates and Paul Manafort, have been indicted for conspiring with Ukrainian governments. Trump’s prior associates laundered more than $75 million through offshore accounts to purchase homes, children’s tuition, and home decor. The indictment was signed and issued on Friday by special counsel Trump prosecutor, Robert Mueller. Despite the election being done and over with, the American public is starting to witness the full scale of Russia’s involvement, social media’s role, and its connection to Trump’s political supporters.
Russian intelligence ran political campaigns spreading disinformation via advertisements. Facebook has confirmed that this fake news potentially reached 126 million users. Google claimed that nearly $5,000 was spent on Russian-backed search-and-display ads and 18 Youtube channels were affiliated with the Kremlin. Twitter found 2,700 profiles linked with the Russian-sponsored organization, Internet Research Agency. They will also demonstrate how these accounts communicated on the platform. Instagram also had about 170 accounts responsible for producing 120,000 pieces of propaganda.
Despite these numbers, social networks argue the insignificance it would’ve had on influencing the election. For instance, only 200 stories are shown to each user every day; only a fraction of the content’s totality. Still, all 3 tech defendants have announced new policies to fend off the fake news and fully disclose the administrators of ad campaigns. These companies have been feeling the heat from Capitol Hill and hopefully will extinguish the fire before it starts to worsen.
On Tuesday, a Senate Judiciary Committee will question Facebook counsel, Colin Stretch; Google’s director of law enforcement and information, Richard Salgado; and Twitter counsel, Sean Edgett. On Wednesday, a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence will bring back both Edgett and Strech along with Google counsel, Kent Walker.
There is a reason to believe that Russia has been retaliating against the U.S. for interfering with Russian elections during Bill Clinton’s presidency. In addition, it seems as if deals have been made with Russian diplomats while keeping federal agencies and the American people in the dark. Although Trump is sitting pretty, indictments of former associates and his previous statements of admiration towards Vladimir Putin doesn’t help the president’s image one bit.