Warner: Congress should use 'lightest touch possible' in regulating social media companies

Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerTrump official releases unverified Russian intel on Clinton previously rejected by Senate panel FBI director casts doubt on concerns over mail-in voting fraud Democrats call for declassifying election threats after briefing by Trump officials MORE (D-Virginia) said Sunday he believes Congress should take “the lightest touch possible” in regulating social media companies as it responds to Russia’s use of their platforms to influence the 2016 presidential election.

“As a pro-tech guy, as somebody who’s been in the tech business longer than I’ve been in politics, I think we need to take the lightest touch possible,” Warner told CBS’s “Face The Nation.” “But the basic requirement that there ought to be the same disclosure for political ads on the internet that exist for ads that appear on your show, I think makes sense.”

Top officials from Twitter, Facebook and Google testified last week before three different congressional committees investigating Russian use of platforms to influence Americans during the 2016 presidential race. Committee members brought examples of Russian-linked ads that reached as many as 146 million Americans on Facebook platforms alone.


“I think they are getting it. It’s taken them longer than I’d like. These are great, iconic American companies,” Warner said on Sunday. “But there is also a dark underbelly that’s been created. The Russians used it this past election, and we’ve got to make sure on a going forward basis these companies work with us, I think, to help disclose particularly when we see foreign countries try to influence directly our political advertising.”

Warner, who is the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said during his opening statement last Wednesday that social media platforms must do more to prevent foreign influence campaigns in the future. He also criticized President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from Trump-Biden debate clash The Memo: Debate or debacle? Democrats rip Trump for not condemning white supremacists, Proud Boys at debate MORE for failing to acknowledge the seriousness of the threat.

Warner said on Sunday that he believes “there are many more chapters in this story to be told” regarding possible Russian influence in the 2016 campaign. The Senate Intel committee still would like to talk to a number of key figures in the campaign, Warner said, including Donald Trump Jr.