Major tech firms who have been accused of allowing Russian operatives to use their services to run ads were pretty much given no mercy at the Senate hearing in Washington. Representatives from Twitter, Facebook, and Google answered questions for the first time publicly on Russian election interference.
Executives from these three companies were grilled on Tuesday by the Senate Judiciary subcommittee about how Russian operatives used their advertising services to interfere in U.S. politics, namely the 2016 election. While they expressed some remorse over the ongoing controversy, they made very few promises that were cognizant of Capitol Hill’s objectives.
Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch, Twitter Acting General Counsel Sean Edgett and Google Director of Law Enforcement and Information Security Richard Salgado were among the witnesses at the hearing on “ways to combat and reduce the amount of Russian propaganda and extremist content online,” the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism said in a statement last week.
Stretch testified on Russian activity at two separate hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday along with Edgett. Salgado testified at the Tuesday hearing only with a Senate Judiciary subcommittee. On Wednesday, Kent Walker, Google’s general counsel, testified before the intelligence committee, which is conducting one of several probes into Russian election interference.
Michael Beckerman, president of the Internet Association, a trade group helping to coordinate the positions of the three companies, said: “Everybody understands this is an important issue in need of a solution. IA and our member companies are engaged with stakeholders to bring transparency to online political ads and ensure there’s no foreign interference in our elections.”