Frustrated lawmakers ask Facebook to explain its Russia response
The House panel said in a statement that it wants to hear from technology companies âto better understand how Russia used online tools and platforms to sow discord in and influence our election.â â" Reuters
Facebook Inc, Twitter Inc and Alphabet Incâs Google are set to face intense public scrutiny from US House and Senate panels as investigato rs focus on social mediaâs role in Russiaâs efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
Executives from all three companies were asked to appear before the Senate committee Nov 1, while the House panel requested them next month, according to aides from both committees. The hearings come amid frustration from some senior lawmakers with what they say is Facebookâs less-than-forthcoming initial response, which has the company and its Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg in particular playing defence.
Facebook has disclosed that Russians appeared to have bought about US$100,000 (RM423,150) in election-related ads last year. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate committee, said Wednesday the panel still hasnât received enough details from Facebook on about 3,000 of those ads.
âI gave them credit last week when they came forward, but itâs really important they put time, energy and resources into this in a meaningful way,â Warn er said on Sept 27. âThe sooner they get us the information, the sooner we get a full accounting.â
Zuckerberg defended his company in a post on Wednesday, rejecting an accusation by President Donald Trump earlier in the day that Facebook was against his campaign.
âAfter the election, I made a comment that I thought the idea misinformation on Facebook changed the outcome of the election was a crazy idea,â he wrote. âCalling that crazy was dismissive and I regret it. This is too important an issue to be dismissive.â
Lawmakers are concerned not just with the last yearâs activities but with preventing efforts to target future elections. Some Democrats have called for social-media companies to face disclosure requirements for political advertising.
Zuckerberg, in his post, said: âWe will do our part to defend against nation states attempting to spread misinformation and subvert elections .â
The House panel said in a statement that it wants to hear from technology companies âto better understand how Russia used online tools and platforms to sow discord in and influence our election.â
Robert Mueller, who was appointed by the US Justice Department to serve as special counsel to investigate possible collusion between the Russian government and Trumpâs campaign, has also made Facebook a focus of his probe. Officials from Twitter are set to meet behind closed doors Thursday with investigators from the Senate intelligence committee.
A House committee member said Wednesday that Facebook is expected to deliver to the committee an estimated 3,000 documents next week, but that it hasnât yet done so. Two panel members said officials of Twitter also have been talking to House Intelligence staffers, but that no meeting with members has yet occurred or been set.
Separately, former Trump Whi te House and campaign aide Boris Epshteyn is set to be interviewed behind closed doors Thursday by the House Intelligence panel, said people familiar with the committeeâs schedule.
Russian-born Epshteyn, 34, most recently served as special assistant to the president in charge of surrogate operations before leaving the position in March. He has been chief political analyst at Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc since April.
Epshteyn had previously confirmed that he had received a request for information by the committee and that he would appear voluntarily. The date wasnât set until this week, the people said. Lawmakers wouldnât say what they want to ask Epshteyn, who emigrated to the US with his family when he was a child. â" BloombergRelated NewsSource: Google News