Technology

Facebook, Twitter, Google invited to testify on Russian election meddling

Executives from Facebook, Twitter and Google have been formally invited to testify Nov. 1 at a House Intelligence Committee hearing on how Russians may have interfered in the 2016 presidential election, says a source with familiar with the committee's actions.

The House hearing is set to happen the same day as a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on the matter. Twitter and Facebook have both committed to testifying at the Senate hearing. Google has not said if it will attend.

Lawmakers have said that they would like to use the hearings to give the public a clearer picture of how the platforms were used by foreign actors during the 2016 presidential campaign and beyond.

After initially criticizing Facebook and Twitter for their lack of effort in providing details on the extent of potential foreign intervention of its platform, lawmakers have begun to warm up to the companies.

"I was concerned at first that some of these social media companies did not take this threat seriously enough," the Senate Intelligence Committee's top Democrat, Mark Warner (Va.), said earlier this week. "I believe they are recognizing that threat now."

Warner's counterpart in the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), said that his panel is looking to build a stronger relationship with tech companies.

"We're going to have to have a much stronger partnership where the Intelligence Committee identifies Russian troll farms like the one here, they share that information with the social media companies so they can identify those accounts and take them down," Schiff said on Thursday.

In September, Facebook told investigators that it discovered thousands of political ads published on its platform over the past two years that were linked to fake accounts based in Russia.

Alex Stamos, Facebook's chief security officer, made the revelation in a blog post, saying that 470 inauthentic accounts spent about $100,000 to buy roughly 3,000 ads.

Later that month, Twitter reported that it found 201 accounts on its platform linked to potential Russian interference in the 2016 election on its platform.

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