Overnight Tech: Trump threatens to pull Facebook into culture war | Twitter finds 200 Russian-influence accounts | Senators unveil driverless car bill

Overnight Tech: Trump threatens to pull Facebook into culture war | Twitter finds 200 Russian-influence accounts | Senators unveil driverless car bill
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TWITTER FOUND 200 ACCOUNTS LINKED TO RUSSIAN INFLUENCE EFFORT: Twitter announced on Thursday that it found 201 accounts on its platform linked to potential Russian interference in the 2016 election on its platform.

The company said that 22 of the accounts were linked to Facebook pages and profiles that Facebook had turned over as a part of its analysis of foreign influence on its social media platform. Twitter noted that it immediately deleted the linked accounts that were not already suspended.

But it's not clear how many Twitter accounts not linked to Russian-tied Facebook accounts could also be connected to Russian election influence.

Twitter said that of the remaining 179 accounts, it "took action on the ones we found in violation of our rules."


None of the 201 accounts were registered as advertisers on Twitter, according to the company.

Twitter also shared that Russia Today, a Russian propaganda news outlet that distributes content in the U.S. and other countries, had used the platform to buy advertisements targeted to U.S. markets in 2016.  Three RT accounts, @RT_com, @RT_America, and @ActualidadRT, purchased $274,100 ads on Twitter.

The money went towards 1,823 promoted tweets, "directed at followers of mainstream media," Twitter's public policy team said.

Twitter met with Senate and House Intelligence Committees on Thursday to brief lawmakers and staff on the company's findings in regard to potential election interference by foreign actors.

Read more here.


… BUT A TOP DEM IS NOT HAPPY AFTER TWITTER'S BRIEFING: 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," Warner told reporters.

"Their response was frankly inadequate on almost every level."

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 in an open hearing on Nov. 1.

The Senate panel has been investigating the role of social media in Russia's interference in the 2016 election, an issue that exploded into 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.

Read more here.


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STUDY FINDS TWITTER USERS SHARED MORE 'JUNK NEWS' THAN REAL STORIES: During the height of the 2016 campaign, Twitter users shared more "misinformation, polarizing and conspiratorial content," than actual news stories, an Oxford University study released Thursday says.

Researchers found that voters on Twitter shared large amounts of content linked to Russia, Wikileaks and other "junk news sources," with the help of bots -- automated Twitter accounts, programmed to simple tasks like spread news.

The study also found that levels of misinformation on Twitter were higher on average in swing states than in than in uncontested states. Researchers culled the information from 22,117,221 tweets collected between Nov. 1 and Nov. 11.

Read more here.


FACEBOOK PULLED INTO NEW CULTURE WAR: President Trump's Wednesday attack on Facebook threatens to pull the social media giant back into the culture war.

Trump's barrage, launched in a series of tweets, comes a year after Facebook found itself embroiled in controversy over how its newsfeed editors treated conservative media. And it coincides with the ongoing congressional investigations into Russian influence, which have raised questions about whether Kremlin-linked actors used Facebook to influence the election.

"Facebook was always anti-Trump," Trump wrote in a tweet Wednesday morning. "The Networks were always anti-Trump hence,Fake News, @nytimes(apologized) & @WaPo were anti-Trump. Collusion?"

The president's shot was a reminder that, despite Zuckerberg's efforts to expand his appeal by touring the country, he and his company are still regarded with distrust by many on the right.

Read more here.


SENATE RELEASES DRIVERLESS CAR LEGISLATION: The Senate released bipartisan legislation on Thursday that would provide the first overarching federal laws governing the driverless car industry.

The bill, authored by Sens. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneGoogle says it continues to allow apps to access Gmail user data Fight looms over national privacy law Want to improve health care? Get Americans off of their couches MORE (R-S.D.) and Gary PetersGary Charles PetersLawmakers move to award posthumous Congressional Gold Medal to Aretha Franklin The farm bill gives Congress a chance to act on the Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act Bipartisanship alive and well, protecting critical infrastructure MORE (D-Mich.), would seek to help the car industry speed up deployment of autonomous technology by waiving traditional safety standards for up to 100,000 vehicles per manufacturer after three years.

"This legislation proposes common sense changes in law to keep pace with advances in self-driving technology," Thune, the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, said in a statement.

The bill will come before the Commerce Committee for a markup on Oct. 4.

The bill does not address self-driving trucks, a major point of contention for lawmakers that was also left out of a similar House bill passed earlier this month.

Trucking unions were concerned about the effect that disrupting the status quo would have on employment while industry groups argued that cars and trucks should be covered by the same framework.

Read more here.


SENATE DEMS SLAM FCC CHIEF AHEAD OF CONFIRMATION VOTE: Senate Democrats on Thursday rallied against Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai ahead of his pending reconfirmation vote.

The Democrats urged their colleagues to vote against the Republican agency head, railing against his opposition to the Obama-era net neutrality rules and his deregulatory record.

"In my opinion, the vast majority of the actions of Chairman Pai have served to eliminate competitive protections, threaten dangerous industry consolidation, make the internet less free and less open, and weaken critical consumer protections for those most vulnerable," Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonNelson campaign to donate K from Al Franken group to charity Political shenanigans mask true problems in Puerto Rico The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — The Hill interviews President Trump MORE (Fla.), the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee, said on the floor Thursday.

Read more here.


FACEBOOK SENDS TEAM TO PUERTO RICO: Facebook is sending employees to help restore communications in Puerto Rico after the island was battered by Hurricane Maria.

"We're working to get Puerto Rico back online," Mark Zuckerberg said on Wednesday in a Facebook post announcing the company's efforts. "We're sending the Facebook connectivity team to deliver emergency telecommunications assistance to get the systems up and running."

Over 91 percent of the cell towers on the island are still not in service, according to a Federal Communications Commission report on Wednesday.

Read more here.


EU THREATENS TO FINE TECH GIANTS OVER HATE SPEECH: European regulators are threatening social media sites with legal repercussions if they don't do more to fight hate speech on their sites.

The European Commission said Thursday that if companies do not "take swift action" to detect and prevent hate speech, it will pass laws allowing the EU to punish them, CNN reported.

Mariya Gabriel, digital economy and society commissioner of the European Commission, said the situation is "not sustainable." She said that websites like Facebook and Twitter take too long -- more than a week -- to remove illegal posts.

Read more here.


DEMS CALL FOR $40B BROADBAND BUILDOUT: Congressional Democrats are calling for a $40 billion investment to expand internet access in rural and inner-city communities, likening their plan to New Deal efforts to expand the electrical grid.

The new proposal is the latest addition to the party's "Better Deal" agenda launched in July.

Democrats say public funds are needed because internet service providers on their own have failed to cover large swaths of the population.

"I know it's hard to believe, but there are places in rural America where there is no internet access or really slow broadband," Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterNelson campaign to donate K from Al Franken group to charity Montana lawmakers cheer recommendation to ban mining north of Yellowstone Cook Political Report moves Texas Senate race to ‘toss-up’ MORE (D-Mont.) said in a statement announcing the proposal.

Read more here.



House Intel panel to hold Russia probe hearing with tech firms

Zuckerberg defends Facebook against Trump attack

Senate panel invites Facebook, Google to testify in Russia probe

Warner sees Reddit as potential target for Russian influence

Equifax interim CEO apologizes for breach: 'We didn't live up to expectations'

Lawmakers target third-party ticket websites