Overnight Technology

Overnight Tech: Facebook, Google asked to testify before Senate Russia probe | Zuckerberg hits back after Trump attack | Senate confirms antitrust chief

SCOOP: FACEBOOK ASKED TO TESTIFY ON RUSSIA PROBE: The Senate Intelligence Committee has issued a request for Facebook to testify in an open hearing to examine how foreign actors may have used social media companies to influence the 2016 election, The Hill has learned.

Committee leaders have also invited Twitter and Google to testify at the hearing set for Nov. 1, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Facebook confirmed Wednesday that it has received the invitation to appear at the hearing, but it is not clear yet whether the company will accept.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) declined to comment on plans for the hearing when asked by reporters, saying only the committee planned to hold a news conference next week to "bring everybody up to date on the investigation."

Burr said earlier Wednesday that it's not important to him that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg or other top executives necessarily show up for a hearing.

"I think it's more important that we get the person who's most capable of talking about the technical aspects of what they need to do to identify foreign money that may come in and what procedures, if any, need to be put in law that make sure elections are not intruded by foreign entities," Burr said.

The Senate panel has been probing Russia's efforts to meddle in the 2016 presidential campaign, including alleged attempts at mounting an influence campaign using social media.

Sen. Mark Warner (Va.), the panel's top Democrat, has pushed for such a hearing since August, after Facebook revealed that the Internet Research Agency, a Russian troll farm with links to Kremlin allies, had purchased $100,000 in political ads during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Read more here.

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TRUMP LASHES OUT AT FACEBOOK: President Trump on Wednesday seemed to suggest that Facebook had colluded with the news media against him during the 2016 presidential race.

"Facebook was always anti-Trump.The Networks were always anti-Trump hence,Fake News @nytimes (apologized) & @WaPo were anti-Trump. Collusion?" the president tweeted.

He added: "But the people were Pro-Trump! Virtually no President has accomplished what we have accomplished in the first 9 months-and economy roaring."

Read more here.

...AND ZUCKERBERG HITS BACK: Mark Zuckerberg defended Facebook on Wednesday after President Trump accused the company of being "anti-Trump."

"Every day I work to bring people together and build a community for everyone," he wrote on the site. "We hope to give all people a voice and create a platform for all ideas."

"Trump says Facebook is against him," Zuckerberg continued. "Liberals say we helped Trump. Both sides are upset about ideas and content they don't like. That's what running a platform for all ideas looks like."

Read more here.

TRUMP WON'T GET LONGER TWEETS RIGHT AWAY: Twitter co-founder Biz Stone on Wednesday said President Trump will not be among the initial group of users who will test out 280-character tweets, which doubles their usual length.

"He's not in the test group," Stone tweeted in response to a question about whether Trump would get the new character limit.

Trump, a regular user of Twitter, has had a considerable impact on the social media platform.

Just this week, Twitter had to deal with questions about why it kept a tweet up in which the president threatened North Korea. Critics argued that the tweet violated Twitter's rules against making violent threats, but the company said the tweet was of public interest in explaining why it remained up.

"Among the considerations is 'newsworthiness' and whether a Tweet is of public interest," the company wrote.

Read more here.

DOJ NOW HAS AN ANTITRUST CHIEF: The Senate voted Wednesday to confirm President Trump's pick to lead the Justice Department's antitrust division, a vote that comes as the department considers the AT&T-Time Warner merger worth $85.4 billion.

Makan Delrahim, who previously worked in Trump's White House counsel's office, was cleared with a 73-21 vote.

Delrahim will be tasked with spearheading the administration's antitrust agenda at a time when the issue is becoming increasingly prominent. Across the board, industries are facing increased consolidation amid rumors of mega-mergers.

Read more here.

FCC DEM CRITICIZES HURRICANE RESPONSE: Democratic FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel says her agency needs to do more to help restore phone service in areas affected by the recent string of devastating hurricanes.

"After Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy @FCC held hearings to address network recovery. Why won't agency do it for Harvey, Irma & Maria?" she tweeted Tuesday. "These are people struggling to make phone calls in the United States. @FCC must study networks in disaster. Stat."

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria have taken down cell and cable service in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico over the last month.

Read more here.

WARNER SEES REDDIT AS POTENTIAL RUSSIA TARGET: Reddit could be the next target for federal investigators exploring Russian influence over the 2016 presidential election.

A representative from Sen. Mark Warner's (Va.) office told The Hill that Warner, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, is interested in Reddit as a potential tool of Russian social media influence.

Warner has also spearheaded efforts to scrutinize Facebook and Twitter as potential tools for foreign interference in the election. Reddit declined to comment.

Read more here.

REPUBLICAN SAYS RUSSIAN TROLLS USING NFL SPAT TO SOW DIVISION: A Republican senator said Wednesday that Russian trolls are taking advantage of the spat between President Trump and NFL players who protest during the national anthem to "push divisiveness" in the United States.

Sen. James Lankford (Okla.) said trolls are "taking both sides of the argument" by employing hashtags such as "#TakeAKnee" and "#BoycottNFL" on social media.

"They were taking both sides of the argument this past weekend and pushing them out from their troll farms as much as they could to try to just raise the noise level in America and to make a big issue seem like an even bigger issue as they're trying to push divisiveness in the country," Lankford said during a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Read more here.

ON TAP:

The Federal Communications Bar Association will hold an event on the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and government access to communications at 6:00 p.m.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

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Ford, Lyft announce new partnership

GOP chairman probes Russian use of Facebook ads to influence US energy market

Sonic Drive-Ins may feature heavily in 5M credit card breach

Russia threatens to ban Facebook over data storage

Reuters: N.Y. regulator subpoenas Equifax over massive breach

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