Published: Thu, September 06, 2018
Industry | By Johnnie Johnson

USA to probe social media giants Facebook, Twitter on 'stifling' free speech

USA to probe social media giants Facebook, Twitter on 'stifling' free speech

Throughout the hearing, Facebook's number two executive, Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter's CEO, Jack Dorsey defended their platforms and the steps they have taken to fight foreign influence but acknowledged past and present shortcomings.

By Adam Satariano, Daisuke Wakabayashi and Cecilia Kang President Donald Trump, in a series of early morning Twitter posts Tuesday, attacked Google for what he claimed was an effort to suppress conservative news outlets supportive of his administration.

Warner said foreign-based disinformation campaigns represent just a fraction of the challenge before you.

Senator Richard Burr, chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, expressed concern that social media is vulnerable to corruption and misuse.

Alphabet, Google's parent company, declined to send its chief executive Larry Page. An empty chair was left at the table next to Sandberg and Dorsey to signify Google's absence.

He added, "I know our members have a series of hard questions about structural vulnerabilities on a number of Google's platforms we need answers for".

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"Google search results for "Trump News" shows only the viewing/reporting of Fake New Media", Trump said on Twitter at 5:24 a.m.

Sandberg said: "I think we've learned a lot and I think we're going to have to continue to learn because as we learn, our opponents learn and we have to keep up".

But Mr Joe Barton, a Republican from Texas, told Mr Dorsey: "We wouldn't be having this discussion if there wasn't a general agreement that your company had discriminated against conservatives".

"We aren't proud of how that free and open exchange has been weaponized and used to distract and divide people, and our nation", he said, tweeting part of his statement. "For them Twitter has always been a source of joy, learning and connection to something bigger".

"That's on us", she said, describing Moscow's trespass as "completely unacceptable" and a violation of Facebook's values "and of the country we love". "The faster we can collaborate, the faster we share those tips with each other, the stronger our collective defense will be". "In fact they go together" and users can control their privacy settings.

Under further questioning by Texas Republican Rep. Joe Barton, Dorsey said he agreed the impact along partisan lines "was not impartial".

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Warner responded that social media companies that fail to do so should face sanctions. We're working on technology and investments in people making sure fake news is disseminated less on the platforms, transparency actions and taking down bad actors.

Dorsey said the messaging service was set up to function as a "public square" but had failed to deal with "abuse, harassment, troll armies, propaganda through bots".

In her testimony, Sandberg details ongoing efforts to take down material linked to the Russian agency, including the removal this year of 270 Facebook pages.

Dorsey said, "We acknowledge the real world, negative consequences of what happened and we take the full responsibility to fix".

In prepared testimony released ahead of a House hearing Wednesday afternoon, Jack Dorsey says his company does not use political ideology to make decisions.

They also emphasized their business models remain, that means attracting as many users as possible, for as long as possible and finding out as much about users. Most of those accounts were created after the presidential election and claimed USA affiliation or sought to reach American audiences, according to Dorsey's testimony.

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