Facebook, Twitter face congressional hearings on political bias, fake news

Florence Fletcher
September 5, 2018

In her opening remarks, Facebook's Sandberg took responsibility on behalf of the company for their slow response to Russian interference in 2016.

Facebook, she said, is "investing heavily in people and technology to keep our community safe and keep our service secure", including doubling the number of people working on safety and security issues to 20,000. Both Senate Intelligence Committee Richard Burr, R-North Carolina, and Vice Chairman Mark Warner, D-Virginia, lambasted Google for failing to sent a top representative.

In August, Twitter came under fire from its users and even from some employees for not joining numerous top social media platforms in banning Alex Jones.

"Twitter does not have the broad number of revenue drivers that Facebook has as far as messenger and Instagram, nor does it have the development infrastructure for new applications the way Facebook does, so that's why it is selling off more", Tigress Financial Partners analyst Ivan Feinseth said. Earlier this year Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before lawmakers in part to explain how the personal information of tens of millions of Facebook users ended up in the hands of the United Kingdom -based data firm Cambridge Analytica.

A spokesperson for Twitter declined to comment, but in past hearings Twitter officials have affirmed the gravity of the situation.

One chair will be occupied by the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg while Twitter's CEO, Jack Dorsey will also be at the receiving end of some angry Republicans who claim the companies have shown evidence of bias against conservatives.

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Senator Richard Burr, the committee's Republican chairman, said he expected the hearing would focus on solutions to the problem of foreign efforts to influence United States elections and sow political discord, with a jab at Google. "We are learning from what happened, and we are improving".

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".

Earlier this year the company said it was taking aggressive measures to combat inauthentic accounts.

"Twitter does not use political ideology to make any decisions, whether related to ranking content on our service or how we enforce our rules", Dorsey said in prepared testimony obtained by Fox News.

For more coverage of congressional hearings on social media, see the TOPLive blog.

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