Earlier today, representatives from popular tech titans, Facebook and Twitter testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee on progress made in curving abuse from foreign entities on their platforms. Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, and Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg appeared for verbal testimonies while Google’s SVP of Global Affairs and Chief Legal Officer, Kent Walker, issued written testimony instead. Twitter, in particular, has also been subject to recent allegations of bias towards conservative content after banning conspiracy theorist, Alex Jones, from their platform while President Donald Trump accused Google of unfairly censoring positive coverage of him on Tuesday of last week. A handful of the committee’s Republican members have expressed similar views regarding Twitter as well.
Google search results for “Trump News” shows only the viewing/reporting of Fake News Media. In other words, they have it RIGGED, for me & others, so that almost all stories & news is BAD. Fake CNN is prominent. Republican/Conservative & Fair Media is shut out. Illegal? 96% of….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 28, 2018
Senator Richard Burr started off the hearing by mentioning how much these platforms are subject to “corruption and abuse” and are “absolutely chilling and a threat to our democracy.” Just last month, all three companies removed hundreds of fake accounts from Iran and Russia who were attempting to sway the country’s political rhetoric. Despite their attempts to block these issues from occurring, Burr told the social giants:
There is a lot of work still to do. And I’m skeptical that, ultimately, you’ll be able to truly address this challenge on your own. Congress is going to have to take action here.
Sandberg replied by firstly apologizing on behalf of Facebook admitting they were too slow to act on these threats and it was “completely unacceptable.” She continued by saying these dangers are nothing new but that terrorism has evolved and adopting modern tactics to achieve their goals. Because of this, she expressed that security is always an “unfinished job.”
We have more than doubled the number of people we have working in safety and security. More than 20,000 people who are able to review reports in over 50 languages 24 hours a day.
Dorsey responded to the hearing by explaining Twitter’s role as a “digital public square” and because of this can either unite or hurt others and themselves. Dorsey expressed shame that Twitter and similar companies have been “weaponized to distract and divide people and our nation.” He went on to elaborate on their most recent strategies to combat the threats these platforms pose.
We’re now removing 200% more accounts that violate our policies. We’re identifying and challenging 8-10 million suspicious accounts a week and thwarting over half a million accounts from logging in to Twitter each day.
Dorsey replied to Trump’s accusations by presenting data from a study made ahead of the hearing that showed both liberals and conservatives have equal leeway on Twitter.
Google’s co-founder, Larry Page, declined to attend the hearing and were issued a written testimony from Walker. Burr immediately expressed his displeasure for their absence thanking Twitter and Facebook for attending saying he wished Google had “an equivalent and appropriate measure of seriousness.”
Senator Mark Warner chimed in as well stating several of Google’s “structural vulnerabilities…we will need to be answered.”
However, no one was blunter than Senator Marco saying perhaps Google is “arrogant” and “sure they don’t want to be here to answer these questions.” Google’s written statement mentioned their most recent initiatives such as their “Advanced Protection Program” and “Project Shield” designed to secure the responsible use of Google’s platform. View the full testimony below:
We are waiting to see how Google will respond to being summoned for future testimonies but it seems that there in the clear for now. Facebook and Twitter reps withstood the pressure of being in the hot seat today, and unfortunately, it doesn’t seem the committee is very impressed by their efforts.
When reached for comments, Google referred The Scope Weekly™ to Larry Page’s written statement above.
The Scope Weekly™ reached out to Twitter and Facebook, and haven’t heard back yet. If new information is provided, the article will be updated accordingly.
The photos are screenshots of the live testimonials. Copyrighted 2018.