Senate Intel Dem rips Twitter over 'deeply disappointing' briefing

Senate Intel Dem rips Twitter over 'deeply disappointing' briefing
© Greg Nash

The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday ripped Twitter over a closed-door briefing to committee staff that the senator called “deeply disappointing” and “inadequate on almost every level.”

“I am more than a bit surprised in light of all the public interest in this subject over the last few weeks that anyone from the Twitter team would think that the presentation that they made to the Senate staff today even began to answer the kind of questions that we’d asked,” Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerTop Democrats demand security assessment of Trump properties Senate passes bill making hacking voting systems a federal crime Senators unload on Facebook cryptocurrency at hearing MORE (Va.) told reporters.

“Their response was frankly inadequate on almost every level,” he said.

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Twitter officials on Thursday morning briefed staff members from the committee, which is probing how the Russian government may have leveraged the social media platform to help influence the 2016 presidential election.

Warner called for the company to testify on the matter publicly, adding that he is considering subpoenaing company representatives to appear.

The committee has issued an invitation to Twitter, as well as Facebook and Google, to appear at an open hearing on Nov. 1.

The Senate panel has been investigating the role of social media in Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, an issue that exploded in the public eye after Facebook said roughly 470 Russian-linked accounts had purchased 3,000 advertisements on its site — some of which were intended to stoke civil discord.

Twitter announced in a public report issued after the briefings that of the accounts identified by Facebook, 22 had corresponding accounts on Twitter.

The company also said it had identified another 179 related or linked accounts. Twitter “took action on the ones we found in violation of our rules.”

Warner on Thursday afternoon dinged the report as “derivative.”

“The notion that their work was basically derivative, based upon accounts that Facebook had identified, showed an enormous lack of understanding from the Twitter team of how serious this issue is — the threat it poses to democratic institutions,” he said.