Twitter misses deadline to provide Senate info on Russia meddling
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, scolded Twitter on Tuesday after the company failed to meet a deadline to provide lawmakers with more information on Russia’s election meddling.
Twitter, along with Facebook and Google, testified before the committee in November and was supposed to turn over information on interference by the Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency and their response on Monday.
Facebook and Google provided responses, but Twitter requested an extension.
“I’m disappointed. I’ve been disappointed throughout this,” Warner told reporters. “Twitter has been often times the slowest to respond. Most of their work was derivative to the Facebook work. The other companies met the deadline which was way over a month from when they testified.”
Twitter is expected to turn over information to the panel in the coming weeks, but Warner blasted that timeline.
“I would not be satisfied with [getting the information] within the next couple of weeks. I wanted it by the deadline,” he said.
Warner has previously expressed frustration with Twitter’s response to Russian meddling. In October, after the company briefed the panel on the matter, he said he was “deeply disappointed” with the information Twitter provided. He said their findings at the time were largely based on corresponding Russian Facebook accounts instead of unearthing new data.
Twitter told The Hill it takes Senate Intelligence’s request seriously and will provide the committee with answers shortly.
“We are continuing to work closely with committee investigators to provide detailed, thorough answers to their questions,” a Twitter spokesperson said in an email. “As our review is ongoing, we want to ensure we are providing Congress with the most complete, accurate answers possible. We look forward to finalizing our responses soon.”
Warner said the information turned over by Facebook and Google is “voluminous” and will take time to sift through.
The committee is considering using outside groups with better technology and more resources to analyze the data in a way that “a series of Senate Intelligence staffers can’t do.”
Warner is currently pursuing legislation he co-sponsored with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) that would force tech companies to be more transparent about who is purchasing political advertisements on their platforms.
The Honest Ads Act would hold companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google to similar political ad transparency standards as TV and radio outlets.
“[Tech companies] want to continue this approach of self-policing. I think that at the end of the day, that doesn’t cut the mustard,” Warner said on Tuesday.
He said if companies continue to fight legislation now, down the road they may “wish they could have taken the Honest Ads Act as opposed to where this policy discussion may lead us.”