Facebook to face Senate Intel questions following revelation of new disinformation campaign

Facebook to face Senate Intel questions following revelation of new disinformation campaign
© Greg Nash

The Senate Intelligence Committee announced Wednesday it will question executives from Facebook and other social media companies on Sept. 5 following Facebook's revelation of a new disinformation campaign aimed at the midterm elections.

Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerRussia docs order sets Trump on collision with intel community Hillicon Valley: North Korean IT firm hit with sanctions | Zuckerberg says Facebook better prepared for midterms | Big win for privacy advocates in Europe | Bezos launches B fund to help children, homeless Bipartisan trio asks US intelligence to investigate ‘deepfakes’ MORE (D-Va.) said the hearing, the date for which was not previously known, would feature testimony from executives at Facebook, Twitter and Google.

The Hill previously reported that Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg had confirmed they would attend the next hearing.

Google, which has been invited, did not immediately confirm if it had accepted the invitation.

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The hearing will serve as a follow-up to one convened last November in which senators questioned social media executives over how their platforms were used by Russian trolls to influence the 2016 presidential election.

The hearing next month is likely to focus partly on the threat of ongoing influence operations. On Tuesday, Facebook disclosed that it had shut down several accounts and pages linked to a coordinated influence campaign aimed at amplifying divisive issues ahead of the November elections. While the social media company has not attributed the operation to an individual or nation-state, some lawmakers suspect Russia in the effort. 

“I know [social media companies] can do better to protect our democracy,” Warner said Wednesday at a hearing featuring testimony from independent experts on foreign influence operations. “They have the creativity, expertise, resources, and technological capability to get ahead of these malicious actors.”

“That is why we will be hosting senior executives from Facebook, Twitter, and Google for a hearing on Sept. 5,” Warner said. “To hear the plans they have in place, to press them to do more, and to work together to address this challenge.”   

Ali Breland contributed.