Lawmakers from both parties on the Senate Judiciary Committee gathered Facebook, Google and Twitter officials on Tuesday and expressed frustration with their response to the use of the platforms by Russia in the presidential election. The lawmakers asked for more answers from the companies regarding the way hoe the Russians and the terrorist groups used their platforms. They added that it was in the national security interests to find solutions, The Hill reported.
“The bottom line is that these platforms are being used to undermine and harm our way of life,” the panel’s chairman, Senator Lindsey Graham said.
Meanwhile, Senator Al Franken wanted to know why did it take so long for the companies to notice that Russia’s doing something.
“I want to understand why no one seems to have caught on to the Russian effort earlier. How did Facebook which, prides itself on being able to process billions of data points … somehow not make the connection that ads paid for by rubbles were paid for by Russians. Those are two data points. How could you not connect those two dots?” Franken asked.
Previous testimonies from the companies show that Russian agents on Facebook reached 126 million users during two years before the election. In the meantime, Twitter published more than 131 thousand messages from Russian agents and it was revealed that more than a thousand videos have been posted on YouTube by Russian agents. According to the representatives from the companies, all of this is a small number of the posts on their services related to the election. But, some of the lawmakers did not like that argument.
“I would just urge you to stop making the argument that it’s such a small number and so we shouldn’t be concerned,” Senator Sheldon Whitehouse said.
The hearings will continue this week. The officials will testify before the Senate and House Intelligence panels and it is expected things to get tougher.
Twitter general counsel Sean Edgett, Facebook general counsel Colin Stretch and Google director of law enforcement and information security Richard Salgado, didn’t want to offer a specific timeline to lawmakers on when they would release their findings from internal reviews of the malicious foreign use of their platforms. They claimed that their investigations were ongoing and that they would release information when available.