Facebook, Twitter, and Google are under close scrutiny as Congress is set to crack down on alleged election-ad abuses. The three tech giants meet Congress today.
Senators want to know how the companies failed to keep Russians from exploiting their networks -- buying 3,000 Facebook ads mostly with rubles -- and using fake accounts to spread chaos and disinformation to millions of Americans.
The three companies’ general counsels will appear before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee Tuesday and the House and Senate Intelligence panels Wednesday.
“The foreign interference we saw is reprehensible and outrageous and opened a new battleground for our company, our industry and our society,” Colin Stretch, Facebook Inc. general counsel, said in prepared remarks. “We’re determined to prevent it from happening again.”
Facebook plans to tell lawmakers that 80,000 posts by 470 fake Russian accounts reached an estimated 126 million people, and that it closed 5.8 million fake accounts from all sources in October 2016 alone.
Fake Russian accounts on Facebook’s Instagram posted another 120,000 pieces of content, the company will tell lawmakers. At the same hearing, Twitter Inc. will say it has suspended 2,752 Russian-linked accounts, far more than it previously disclosed, according to testimony obtained by Bloomberg.
Alphabet Inc.’s Google plans to say the impact on its sites was much smaller, with $4,700 worth of Russian-linked ads, compared to the $100,000 Facebook disclose.
Facebook head of security Alex Stamos has said using algorithms to try to cut fake news or political comments would result in the company acting as the “Ministry of Truth” -- something it doesn’t want to be. But its current effort to stop misinformation, by letting neutral third parties fact-check posts flagged by users, is falling short, according to people familiar with the process.
MIke "Mish" Shedlock