Hillicon Valley: Five takeaways on new election interference from Iran, Russia | Schumer says briefing on Iranian election interference didn't convince him effort was meant to hurt Trump | Republicans on Senate panel subpoena Facebook, Twitter CEOs |

Hillicon Valley: Five takeaways on new election interference from Iran, Russia | Schumer says briefing on Iranian election interference didn't convince him effort was meant to hurt Trump | Republicans on Senate panel subpoena Facebook, Twitter CEOs |
© Greg Nash

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News that Iran and Russia accessed voter registration data has dropped like a lightning bolt into an already heated campaign battle with less than two weeks before Election Day.

The announcement from administration officials that the countries had accessed voter registration data and were believed to be behind threatening emails sent to U.S. voters sparked immediate concerns and questions.

Here are five takeaways.

SENATE SUBPOENAS ZUCKERBERG AND DORSEY ... AGAIN: The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Thursday to subpoena the chief executives of Facebook and Twitter a week after both platforms limited the spread of a controversial article about Hunter Biden, Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden offers support to union organizing efforts Senate Democrats nix 'Plan B' on minimum wage hike Kavanaugh dismays conservatives by dodging pro-Trump election lawsuits MORE's son.

The panel voted 12-0 to compel the testimony of Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergWho killed the California dream? If you think it was liberals, think again Facebook touts benefits of personalized ads in new campaign Mellman: White working-class politics MORE and Jack Dorsey. The Democrats on the committee had boycotted the hearing over the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Amy Coney BarrettAmy Coney BarrettThe Jan. 6 case for ending the Senate filibuster Laurence Tribe: Justice Thomas is out of order on 2020 election McConnell backs Garland for attorney general MORE.

Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone declined to comment. Twitter also declined to comment. 

Both CEOs, along with Google parent company Alphabet's Sundar Pichai, are scheduled to testify before the Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday. That hearing is to focus on content moderation, data privacy and media consolidation.


Thursday’s vote came about a week after Facebook and Twitter moved to restrict the spread of a controversial article in the New York Post suggesting that Hunter Biden had organized a meeting between a Ukrainian businessman and his father, who was vice president at the time. 

That claim was based on emails obtained from a hard drive with no substantive links to anyone involved.

Read more here.

SCHUMER NOT CONVINCED: Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerThe bizarre back story of the filibuster Hillicon Valley: Biden signs order on chips | Hearing on media misinformation | Facebook's deal with Australia | CIA nominee on SolarWinds House Rules release new text of COVID-19 relief bill MORE (D-N.Y.) said Wednesday that a classified briefing he received on Iranian activity to influence next month's election did not convince him the effort is aimed at discrediting President TrumpDonald TrumpSacha Baron Cohen calls out 'danger of lies, hate and conspiracies' in Golden Globes speech Sorkin uses Abbie Hoffman quote to condemn Capitol violence: Democracy is 'something you do' Ex-Trump aide Pierson planning run for Congress MORE, contrary to what Director of National Intelligence (DNI) John RatcliffeJohn Lee RatcliffeFormer Trump officials eye bids for political office Grenell congratulates Buttigieg on becoming second openly gay Cabinet member Senate confirms Biden's intel chief, giving him first Cabinet official MORE told the public. 

“I did receive a classified briefing this afternoon on this, and so I can't discuss the details but I can tell you one thing it was clear to me, that the intent of Iran in this case, and Russia in many more cases is to … basically undermine confidence in our elections,” Schumer said on MSNBC’s “The Rachel MaddowRachel Anne MaddowTim Ryan: Prosecutors reviewing video of Capitol tours given by lawmakers before riot League of Conservation Voters adds racial justice issues to 2020 congressional scorecard Newly released footage shows Schumer's 'near miss' with Capitol rioters MORE Show.”  

“This action I do not believe was aimed, from my surmise, was aimed at discrediting President Trump,” he added. 

Ratcliffe during a press conference Wednesday evening said Russia and Iran are behind new efforts to sway public opinions related to the 2020 presidential election. He said Iran specifically is behind sending spoofed emails that aim to intimidate voters, incite social unrest and damage Trump. 

Schumer disagreed on the last point. 

“I’m not saying what he told me in their briefing, I can tell you that from the briefing I had the strong impression it was much rather to undermine confidence in elections and not aimed at any particular figure, but rather to undermine the very wellspring of our democracy,” he said. 

Read more here

NEITHER IS PELOSI: Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump shows he holds stranglehold on GOP, media in CPAC barnburner Biden brings back bipartisan meetings at the White House McCarthy: 'I would bet my house' GOP takes back lower chamber in 2022 MORE (D-Calif.) on Thursday said Iran is a “bad actor” but not on par with Russia in terms of seeking to influence the U.S. election. 

Pelosi and other Democrats sought to draw attention on Russian interference after Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe warned Wednesday both countries are behind efforts to sway public opinion related to the presidential election. 

He particularly called out Iran as being behind spoofed emails to registered voters that he said aimed to damage President Trump, but Pelosi said Ratcliffe is suggesting a false equivalence regarding interference efforts from Iran and Russia.  

“Russia is the villain here from what we have seen in the public domain,” Pelosi added. “Iran is a bad actor but in no way equivalent. And they always try to find some equivalence to protect their friend, Russia.”


She spoke to reporters shortly before receiving a classified briefing on the intelligence about the efforts. 

“I will be very interested to hear what they have to say in a classified briefing, because everything we have seen in the public domain does not justify the statements that we heard yesterday,” Pelosi said at a press conference Thursday, regarding Ratcliffe’s comments the night before. 

Read more here.

NOT A HACK: An administrator of Fort Bragg’s Twitter account has admitted to sending sexually explicit tweets the military base originally blamed on a hack, a spokesperson said Thursday. 

“This morning, at the initiation of an investigation into yesterday’s incident regarding inappropriate tweets on the Fort Bragg Twitter account, an administrator for the account identified himself as the source of the tweets," Col. Joe Buccino, a spokesperson for the XVIII Airborne Corps, said in a statement Thursday.

"Appropriate action is underway,” he added.

The incident happened Wednesday afternoon when the official Twitter account for the North Carolina Army base, one of the largest military installations in the country, replied in graphic detail to two tweets from a sex worker.


Read more here.

ACCEPTING APPEALS: Facebook’s oversight board announced Thursday that it will begin allowing people to submit cases for review.

The independent decision-making body was first previewed by Facebook in 2018 as a way to oversee the platform’s content moderation decisions.

The 40-member body has individuals from all over the world, including co-chairs Helle Thorning-Schmidt, a former Danish prime minister; Michael McConnell, a constitutional law professor at Stanford University; Jamal Greene, a Columbia law professor; and Catalina Botero-Marino, dean of Universidad de los Andes faculty of law.

“The Board is eager to get to work,” Botero-Marino said Thursday. “We won’t be able to hear every appeal, but want our decisions to have the widest possible value, and will be prioritizing cases that have the potential to impact many users around the world, are of critical importance to public discourse, and raise questions about Facebook’s policies.” 

The oversight board is meant to eventually have final and binding say over whether content should be allowed on, or taken down from, Facebook and Instagram. It is set up as a separate company from Facebook funded through an independent trust.

Read more here.


CRACKING THE CODE: Both Twitter and the White House are denying a Dutch researcher’s claim that he was able to access President Trump’s account by guessing his password.

Dutch media outlets initially reported Victor Gevers, a security researcher, had correctly guessed the president’s password was “maga2020!”

While Gevers posted a screenshot purporting to show himself having accessed the account, Motherboard notes that the screenshot shows the president’s Twitter bio without the American flag emoji it displays.

Twitter, meanwhile, has said it has seen no evidence of improper access to the account, which has more than 87 million followers.

Read more here.

TECH TEAMS UP WITH DEA: Some of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies are teaming up with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for Saturday’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

Facebook, Google and Twitter will work with the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP) to help participants locate drop-off locations for any prescription drugs they have at home.

The national campaign has seen results before, with the DEA reporting that it collected more than 880,000 pounds of prescription drugs and vape devices last fall.

Read more here

Lighter click: Some real spooky lads

An op-ed to chew on: How Big Tech factors into the US-China geopolitical competition


ClickHole Started as a Meat Joke. Can It Avoid Being Offal? (Wired / Kate Knibbs)

Alloy promised Democrats a data edge over Trump. The DNC didn’t buy it. Now what? (Protocol / Issie Lapowsky)

The Network: How a Secretive Phone Company Helped the Crime World Go Dark (Motherboard / Joseph Cox)