, 62 tweets, 12 min read Read on Twitter
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

Hearing on Social Media Influence in the 2016 U.S. Elections

Witnesses are the attorneys from @Facebook, @Twitter, and @Google.
We have no explanation for why the CEOs of these firms are not appearing.

Tweets will be paraphrased to capture essence of meaning of remarks UNLESS quotation marks are used to denote actual words.
GOP @SenatorBurr begins with an opening statement attempting to frame Russian efforts as NOT being "critical to the election result."
[This is NOT a promising start to a unified approach from the committee members, points to a tennis game type of highly partisan hearing.]
Dem Sen. @MarkWarner:

"Russian operatives are attempting to infiltrate and manipulate American social media to...set us against ourselves"

BOTH GOP @SenatorBurr and Democratic Sen. @MarkWarner sound ANGRY at the social platform representatives, as well as Russia.
Their anger is not surprising given unsatisfying testimony by same witnesses yesterday before Sen. Judiciary subcomm on Crime and Terrorism.

Says platforms changed world for the better but Russian actions have revealed "the dark underbelly of what you have created."

"Each of you here today needs to put MORE resources to identifying bad actors and" ...preventing them from using your platforms...

One study indicated "bots generated ONE out of every FIVE political messages" on Twitter during the 2016 campaign.
Warner (rightly) chastises Twitter for grossly underestimating the extent of Russian presence and bot presence on its platform.
Not just angry, Senators Burr and Warner sound frightened, as did senators during the hearing yesterday.
Senators are admittedly just now realizing social media's immense power to shape political culture and create national security challenges.
Again, @Facebook's counsel is reading prepared remarks, as he did yesterday.

Testimony seems substantially equivalent.

Not a good look.
Again, @Twitter's counsel too is reading prepared remarks, as he did yesterday.

Testimony seems substantially equivalent.

Not gonna fly.
.@Twitter has repeatedly said it studied Russian activity from Sept 1st through Dec of 2016.

Russian active measures started in 2014.
This is NOT good enough, @twitter, @jack, @biz.

NOT good enough.
Interestingly, @Google has a HIGHER level of management and counsel testifying today than was present at yesterday's hearing.
New testimony.
As in yesterday's hearing, it appears @Google is WAY ahead of @Facebook and @twitter in grasping/addressing importance of what's happening.

FB groups "Heart of Texas" and "pro-Muslim" group set up TWO different protests AT THE SAME TIME/PLACE in Houston to create conflict.
BOTH groups were created by the Russian troll headquarters in St. Petersburg, Russia, and the "protests" were planned by Russia as well.

Does FEC law apply to your platform?

Facebook, Twitter, and Google: Yes.
Twitter AGAIN claims only 5% of its accounts are bots.

Burr notes every academic estimate is FAR higher (15%), asks for written response.
Warner: "More than a little frustration" we repeatedly brought up concerns,were "blown off" by your leadership, testimony "strains credibly"
Warner to FB:You bragged re how pro-active you were in FR elections. Have you cross-checked accts to see if they were active in US election?
.@Facebook counsel tries to evade. Warner presses HARD, demands yes or no.

Facebook counsel says he'll have to get back to him.
Warner is SPOT ON pressing Facebook about not completing BASIC cross-checking of Russian activity among different anti-democracy efforts.
.@Twitter counsel admits that not shutting down the TENGOP account down earlier was a "big miss."

Yeah. That's one way to put it 🙄
GOP @SenatorRisch hitting Republican talking points about how all of these Russian activities supposedly had no impact on 2016 election.
Risch trying to get Facebook, Twitter, and Google to agree with him "this is a whole lot broader than simply the 2016 election."
They agree.
Democratic @SenFeinstein:

"You don't get it ... What we're talking about is the beginning of cyber warfare."


I attended the hearing yesterday and came away gravely disappointed with answers.

"This just will not do."

GOP Senator @marcorubio asking about how Facebook interacts with the Chinese government.
Facebook uses example of Holocaust denial being reported by Germany and such content being "geo-blocked" for that country.
[ISN'T HOLOCAUST DENIAL HATE SPEECH, @Facebook? Shouldn't it be taken down period?!]

Do you have any info re voter registration data being used to target specific voters?
Facebook & Twitter say they are "not aware of"
Dem Senator @RonWyden:
"With the current fascist leadership of Russia" attempting to undermine democracy, we need to use all tools to combat

With respect to the 2016 election, "it's clear you [the platforms] failed."

Wyden: Yes or no, have you done enough? Yes or no?

Facebook, Twitter, and Google: No.
"It's not clear that you all or the public appear to understand the degree" to which Russian active measures extended.

Discusses ESPIONAGE.

We have specific CASES in which this has happened. I want written answers within a week about the confidence dynamic just described.
Wyden: Are you confident you know extent of Russian active measures on your platforms? Yes or no?

Facebook: No
Twitter: No
Google: No

Democratic Senator @MartinHeinrich:

The president says Russian active measures were a "hoax." Yes or no, were they?

Facebook: No.
Independent @SenAngusKing:

"I'm disappointed you're here and not your CEOs."

cc: @Facebook @Twitter @Google

This [Russia using social media to try to destroy democracies] is not just happening here but throughout the West.
GOP Senator:

"When were you aware of Russian activities on election issues - before or after the election?
Facebook: 2015 and through and after the election

Twitter: 2015

Google: Only after Jan ICA looking at this particular issue.
(GOP Senator asking is @SenatorLankford)

@Facebook AND @Twitter admit they were aware of Russian active measures on their platforms as far back as 2015.

Democratic @Sen_JoeManchin:

"You cannot allow what is going on against our nation. You are on the front lines with us."

"I wish your CEOs were here. This cannot be a business model issue ... it has to be a national security decision."
GOP @SenTomCotton presses Twitter to put US national security interests above those of US adversaries.
Democratic @SenKamalaHarris:

"Our nation's enemies use your platforms ... with the intent and affect of disrupting our democracy."
Harris: How much money did you make off of legitimate ads that ran alongside Russian propaganda?

Facebook: IDK
Twitter: IDK
Google: IDK

It would seem to us to be important info so we can see "HOW MUCH YOU PROFITED OFF RUSSIAN PROPAGANDA. Please follow up on that."
Who is responsible for state-sponsored info ops?

Google: I will be.
Facebook: I will be.
Twitter: I guess me and head of product.
In other words:

NONE of these companies have an EXECUTIVE LEVEL position in charge solely for dealing with *state-sponsored* info ops.

"If for some reason, you need anti-trust waivers to collaborate to address this, please let us know."

"Don't let nation states disrupt our future. You're on the frontlines of defense for it. Please take that back to your companies."

Live-tweeting Senate Intelligence Committee hearing:

Russia's social media influence on 2016 election

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