Overnight Tech: Black lawmakers press Sandberg on diversity at Facebook | Dems want hearing on Trump tweets about media | Watchdog to probe alleged FCC cyberattack

Overnight Tech: Black lawmakers press Sandberg on diversity at Facebook | Dems want hearing on Trump tweets about media | Watchdog to probe alleged FCC cyberattack
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SANDBERG MEETS WITH CBC: Black lawmakers used a meeting with Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg on Thursday to demand the company do more to address its lack of diversity.

"The fact that no African-Americans serve on the board of directors, there are no African-Americans in their C-suite -- that is unacceptable," Rep. G.K. ButterfieldGeorge (G.K.) Kenneth ButterfieldOvernight Tech: White House unveils tech education initiative | Bannon reportedly sought to spy on Facebook | Uber CEO to appeal London ban | John Oliver rips AT&T-Time Warner merger Liberal unrest threatens Dem immigration strategy 'Amnesty' fight threatens pursuit of immigration deal MORE (D-N.C.) told reporters after the meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus.

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Butterfield and Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) said that during the meeting, Sandberg heeded their concerns and committed to bringing a black director onto the company's board "within the foreseeable future."

"There will be at least an African-American on the board of directors and once a vacancy is created in the C-suite there will be African-American representation in the C-suite," Butterfield said.

Kelly said she believed Sandberg had a candidate in mind, but that Sandberg did not share further details with the caucus.

Lawmakers in the meeting also pushed Sandberg on how Russian actors used the platform to purchase political ads during the 2016 election, focusing specifically on ads that took advantage of racial tensions in the U.S.

"For us, this a very fragile moment in time for African-Americans across this country," Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Cedric Richmond (D-La.) said. "What we needed Facebook to understand is that they play a role in the perception of African-Americans and they are influencers that use their platform to influence this country."

Richmond suggested that racially charged posts on Facebook did not just influence the public, but also motivated decisions by law enforcement officials.

"If you look at the reputation of Black Lives Matter, for instance, they are portrayed as being violent. Take that and look at the FBI assessment in August where they created a new class of threats called 'Black Identity Extremists,' " Richmond said after the meeting.

"It's the craziest report because it says because you identify as black you are threat. That is offensive and we need to make sure we are not allowing people to make platforms like Facebook and Twitter and Google and any of the other ones to create that perception and [keep] the FBI from buying into it," Richmond continued.

Read more here.

 

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BLACK LAWMAKERS TO VISIT SILICON VALLEY: Members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) will travel to Silicon Valley on Oct. 16 to press tech leaders to increase the diversity within their companies.

Co-chairs of the CBC Diversity Task Force, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), will meet with major technology firms in the Bay Area during the trip.

Lee and Butterfield will kick off the meetings with a press conference at the headquarters of Hustle, a mass messaging app that was popular for campaigns during the 2016 election. Technology firms participating in meetings after the press conference have not been finalized.

Read more here.

 

SANDBERG BACKS RELEASING RUSSIAN ADS: Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said on Thursday that she "absolutely" agrees with the decision to release the 3,000 political ads that her company believes were purchased by Russians.

"Things happened on our platform during this election that should not have happened," Sandberg said during a live interview with Axios's Mike Allen. "We know that we have a responsibility to do everything we can to prevent this kind of abuse."

The House Intelligence Committee announced Wednesday that it would be making the ads public, a month after Facebook first revealed that it had sold $100,000 in ads to the Internet Research Agency, which Facebook says is a Russian "troll farm."

Read more here.

 

KHANNA'S PROFILE RISING: Two lawmakers key to representing Silicon Valley are at odds after Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) slammed Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinGun proposal picks up GOP support Gingrich: Banning rapid fire gun modification is ‘common sense’ House bill set to reignite debate on warrantless surveillance MORE's (D-Calif.) decision to run for reelection.

Khanna, who says Feinstein is out of touch with the Democratic grass roots, is the lawmaker Silicon Valley wanted. Major tech leaders like former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, venture capitalist and Y Combinator head Sam Altman and top officials at Google and Facebook showered Khanna with endorsements during his 2016 campaign.

Feinstein, conversely, has frustrated tech with her tendency to back law enforcement and other groups on surveillance issues.

Read more here.

 

TWITTER RESPONDS TO MCGOWAN: Twitter's safety team responded to criticism Thursday after it temporarily banned actress Rose McGowan, who had been using the social media platform to discuss sexual harassment allegations against film producer Harvey Weinstein.

McGowan, one of many women who has come forward with assault allegations against Weinstein, was temporarily banned from the website on Wednesday.

"Twitter has suspended me," McGowan wrote on Instagram. "There are powerful forces at work. Be my voice."

In several tweets posted Thursday morning, the website explained that McGowan's account was temporarily banned from the website after she shared a private phone number in a tweet.

Read more here.

 

HOUSE DEMS CALL FOR HEARING ON TRUMP TWEETS: A pair of top House Democrats are calling for Congress to hold public hearings on President Trump's threats to revoke the broadcast licenses of media outlets he doesn't like.

Reps. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) and Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) said on Thursday that they want all five members of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to testify before Congress to disavow the president's comments "publicly and under oath."

"Over the past few days the President has repeatedly attacked news outlets and their FCC licenses," the two said in a joint statement. "This threat alone may already be chilling free-speech across the country. That is why we and others have called on the FCC Chairman to immediately condemn this intimidation and promise to the American public that he will not follow through on the directions he has received from the President."

Read more here.

 

WATCHDOG TO PROBE ALLEGED FCC CYBERATTACK: The government's top watchdog has agreed to investigate the reported cyberattack that targeted the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) earlier this year while the agency was preparing to roll back net neutrality regulations.

A spokesman for the Government Accountability Office (GAO) confirmed it has accepted a request from two Democratic lawmakers to probe the distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack that the FCC said disrupted its electronic comment filing system in May.

The spokesman said that the probe, which was first reported by Politico, is "now in the queue, but the work won't get underway for several months." The investigation will also examine the FCC's broader cybersecurity efforts. 

Sen. Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzChris Murphy’s profile rises with gun tragedies Senators grill ex-Equifax CEO over stock sales Overnight Cybersecurity: Trump proclaims 'Cybersecurity Awareness Month' | Equifax missed chance to patch security flaw | Lawmakers await ex-CEO's testimony | SEC hack exposed personal data MORE (D-Hawaii) and Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) wrote to the GAO in mid-August asking it to investigate the DDoS attack that the FCC blamed for slowing its comment filing system on May 8.

The agency's comment filing system was brought down the day after comedian John Oliver slammed the FCC for trying to ease Obama-era net neutrality regulations during a segment on his HBO show. The incident generated speculation that the system had been overwhelmed with traffic because Oliver directed his viewers to file comments supporting the regulations. 

However, the FCC later said that the system had been targeted with a DDoS attack, which overwhelms a website with massive amounts of fake traffic. 

The Hill's Morgan Chalfant has more here.

 

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