Monday, 10 December, 2018

What to expect: Twitter CEO's testimony on transparency, accountability

Jack Dorsey 2015 Jack Dorsey 2015More
Oscar Goodwin | 06 September, 2018, 00:41

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg appeared at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Wednesday to answer questions about foreign interference on their platforms aimed at disrupting US politics. While the tweets were clearly prepared to go beforehand, this is the first time someone live-tweeted their testimony from the hot seat at a congressional hearing.

Prior to the hearing, President Donald Trump in an interview with the Daily Caller accused social media companies of interfering in the USA mid-term elections in November, without appearing to offer any evidence.

"Over the last 18 months we've met with dozens of Committee Members and briefed major Congressional Committees numerous times on our work to prevent foreign interference in U.S. elections", a Google spokesperson said in an email.

"Over the last 18 months we've met with dozens of Committee Members and briefed major Congressional Committees numerous times on our work to prevent foreign interference in USA elections", a Google spokesperson said in a statement.

"I'm skeptical that, ultimately, you'll be able to truly address this challenge on your own", he told the hearing with Dorsey and Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg.

She is planning to tell the Senate committee that Facebook is removing fake accounts and pages, employing fact-checkers to stop the spread of inaccurate information, and more prominently disclosing which organization has paid for an advertisement that a Facebook user sees.

Lawmakers also criticized Alphabet Inc's (GOOGL.O) Google for refusing to send top executives to testify in the Senate on foreign efforts to influence USA politics, with just weeks before the November 6 congressional elections. "It violated the values of our company and of the country we love", Sandberg said in her written statement, which Facebook shared with Fortune.

"That's on us", she wrote. Shares of other tech companies, including Alphabet GOOGL.O and Snap SNAP.N , were also down.

Some Republicans have also charged social media companies with bias against Trump and other conservatives.

The statement from Dorsey released by a House panel covered questions about foreign influence operations on social media as well as accusations of political bias.

Republicans control majorities in both the Senate and House, but the House's approach to the election issue has been far more partisan than in the Senate.

Instead, an empty chair, complete with a glass of water, joined Sandberg and Dorsey on the dais.

The news is the latest sign that the USA government, which has so far been reluctant to regulate internet companies, is scrutinising them more closely.

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