Facebook, Twitter fall as they face U.S. Congress

Twitter CEO personally weighed in on company's handling of Alex Jones Richard Spencer accounts report

Greg Nash

Twitter founder Jack Dorsey and Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg will appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee Wednesday morning.

The hearing comes after Dan Coats, the Director of National Intelligence, said last month that Russian Federation has continued to attempt the kinds of online influence operations it allegedly ran on the social platforms to spread false information and sow divisiveness ahead of the 2016 US presidential election.

"Clearly this problem is not going away; I'm not even sure it's trending in the right direction", Burr said of the threat to USA elections from foreign influence operations on social media platforms. "We acknowledge the real-world negative consequences of what happened, and we take full responsibility to fix it". Lawyers for Facebook, Google and Twitter were grilled by senators over the course of two days last October, after the extent of the Russian social media influence operation was revealed.

Referring to such companies, which include Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc, Trump told the conservative news outlet in an interview conducted on Tuesday that "I think they already have" interfered in the November 6 election.

Google offered to send its chief legal officer, Kent Walker, to Wednesday's hearing, but he was rejected by the committee, which said it wanted to hear from corporate decision-makers.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has at times favored allowing far-right personalities such as Infowars' Alex Jones and white nationalist leader Richard Spencer on his social media platform, despite objections from some of Dorsey's staff.

During that hearing, it's likely Dorsey will face questions about - and push back against - accusations of political bias against Republicans.

Dorsey will tell the House Energy and Commerce Committee that Twitter "does not use political ideology to make any decisions", according to written testimony released on Tuesday. Some Republicans, including President Donald Trump, have pushed the idea that Twitter is "shadow banning" some in the GOP because of the ways search results have appeared.

In the Senate, both Burr and Warner pressed the social media companies to do more. Republican Senator Marco Rubio said the company might have skipped the hearing because it was "arrogant".

In a statement to HuffPost, Google said it's been diligent in briefing lawmakers on the political interference issue in the past.

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