Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerSocial media execs prepare for showdown Restore our parks Washington's fall agenda: GOP, tech industry clash over bias claims MORE (Va.), the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, which hosted Wednesday's hearing.
Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, who testified alongside Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey, acknowledged that the company was too slow to respond to Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 USA election, but insisted it is doing better.
"Our adversaries are determined, creative, and well-funded". Dorsey will later appear before the House at 1:30 p.m.
The leaders defended their practices of censorship and sharing personal data with third parties as lawmakers called for greater federal regulations to ensure the United States does not repeat the mistakes of the 2016 presidential election, where Russian Federation played a key role in infiltrating these social media sites. That scrutiny has led to additional criticism over the companies' respect for user privacy and whether conservatives are being censored.
Senators said legislation addressing the use of social media for political disinformation could resemble a bill passed earlier this year - and signed into law by Trump - that made it easier for state prosecutors and sex-trafficking victims to sue social media companies, advertisers and others who failed to keep exploitative material off their sites. Richard Burr (R-NC) and Mark Warner (D-VA) expressed their appreciation for the steps Facebook and Twitter have taken to regain control of their platforms.
Google said Walker will be on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, adding that company officials first informed the Senate committee that Walker would be Google's representative in July.
Twitter's Dorsey also will testify at a House of Representatives hearing on Wednesday that the company "does not use political ideology to make any decisions", according to written testimony also made public on Tuesday. Twitter denies that's happening. Following her remarks, she and Dorsey will be subject to questions from the Senate.
Google declined to send a top executive, so the company's absence is marked by a glass of water and empty chair in the hearing room. The committee rejected that offer.
Sandberg, in her opening statement, said Russian interference, "violated the values of our company, and of the country we love", and emphasized that Facebook is increasing its staffing to identify malicious actors. While Burr said he believes Facebook and Twitter do understand the problem, it took both companies several months a year ago to acknowledge they had been manipulated. Still, their business models - free services that rely on attracting as many users as possible for as long as possible and finding out as much about them as possible - remain the same. "We were too slow to spot this and too slow to act".
Senate Intelligence has been looking into Russian efforts to influence USA public opinion throughout Trump's presidency, after us intelligence agencies concluded that Kremlin-backed entities sought to boost his chances of winning the White House in 2016. He said Twitter has so far suspended 3,843 accounts the company believes are linked to that agency and has seen recent activity.