Facebook and Twitter face foreign interference and claim of bias

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg (R) arrive to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on September 5, 2018

Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter boss Jack Dorsey became the latest technology executives to obtain a congressional interrogation on foreign manipulations on Tuesday, where angry Republicans are also investigating President Trump's accusations of bias.

The couple had already been presented before the Senate Intelligence Committee because the meddling in the Russian elections continues to hover over Congress two months away.

President Trump called Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation a "witch hunt," but the intelligence community has concluded that the Kremlin orchestrated efforts to manipulate social media platforms to try to influence the electorate and sow divisions.

Google, the subject of Trump's recent complaints about an alleged anti-conservative bias in search programs, will not be represented.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg (R) arrive to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on September 5, 2018

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg (R) arrive to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on September 5, 2018

Trump raised his criticism of social networking companies, accusing them of interfering in both the 2016 and the 2018 elections.

"I think they have already done it," he told the Daily Caller in an interview published on Wednesday.

Then it changed to 2016, where special counselor Robert Mueller has been investigating Russian interference to harm the Democrat Hillary Clinton and help Trump.

"I mean, the real interference in the last election was that, if you look at it, practically all those companies are super liberal in favor of Hillary Clinton," Trump said.

"Twitter does not use political ideology to make decisions, whether related to the content ranking in our service or how we enforce our rules," Dorsey will say.

"I mean the real interference in the last election was that, if you look at it, practically all these companies are super liberals in favor of Hillary Clinton," President Trump told the Daily Caller, diminishing the conclusions of Russian interference.

He continued, without providing any concrete evidence: "Maybe I did a better job because I'm good with Twitter and I'm good at social networks, but the truth is that everyone was on Hillary Clinton's side, and if you look what was happening with Facebook and with Google and all that, they were very much on their side, "Trump said.

The committee also invited the parent company Alphabet CEO for its hearing, but the firm was only willing to send a low-level executive.

Alphabet was discouraged to send Chief Legal Officer Kent Walker. He released his prepared testimony even though he will not come. Google has denied manipulating its search functions with any kind of political bias.

SMILE FOR THE CAMERAS: Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, arrive to testify before an audience of the Senate Intelligence Committee in Dirksen Building about the influence of foreign operations on social networks

SMILE FOR THE CAMERAS: Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, arrive to testify before an audience of the Senate Intelligence Committee in Dirksen Building about the influence of foreign operations on social networks

SMILE FOR THE CAMERAS: Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, arrive to testify before an audience of the Senate Intelligence Committee in Dirksen Building about the influence of foreign operations on social networks

Facebook co-founder, president and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a combined hearing of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committee at the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill on April 10, 2018, at the last high profile presentation of a CEO of technology

Facebook co-founder, president and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a combined hearing of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committee at the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill on April 10, 2018, at the last high profile presentation of a CEO of technology

Facebook co-founder, president and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a combined hearing of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committee at the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill on April 10, 2018, at the last high profile presentation of a CEO of technology

"I mean, the real interference in the last election was that, if you look at it, practically all those companies are super liberal in favor of Hillary Clinton," Trump said.

Executives are defending their companies against lawmakers who say they are not doing enough fighting to continue foreign efforts to influence US policy.

Sandberg, who will testify along with Dorsey, will acknowledge before the Senate Intelligence Committee that the company was too slow to respond to Russia's efforts to interfere in the 2016 US elections and in American society, but insists it is improving.

Dorsey, in testimony prepared for a House committee, rejects accusations of bias.

"Let me be clear about an important and fundamental fact: Twitter does not use political ideology to make decisions, whether related to the content ranking in our service or how we enforce our rules," he plans to say.

"We strongly believe in being impartial, and we strive to enforce our rules impartially We do not follow anyone according to political ideology In fact, from a simple commercial perspective and to serve public conversation, Twitter feels incentivized to maintain all voices on the platform, "he will tell the Energy and Commerce Committee.

"We have removed hundreds of pages and accounts involved in a coordinated and inauthentic behavior, which means that they deceived others about who they were and what they were doing," Sandberg said in a written testimony released Tuesday.

Facebook, Twitter and other technology companies have been on the defensive for many months about the activity of political influence on their sites, as well as concerns about user privacy.

Its executives have traveled to Washington several times to testify in Congress, including 10 hours of questions to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for two days in April.

The Senate Intelligence Committee has been investigating Russia's efforts to influence American public opinion during the presidency of President Donald Trump, after US intelligence agencies concluded that entities backed by the Kremlin had tried to increase their chances of winning. the White House in 2016.

Moscow denies participation, and Trump, backed by some of his Republican colleagues in Congress, has repeatedly rejected investigations on the issue as a partisan witch hunt or deception.

Some Republicans also accused social media companies of being prejudiced against Trump and other conservatives. Twitter's Dorsey was to follow his testimony in the Senate on Wednesday morning with an appearance at an afternoon audience that discusses that issue in the House of Representatives.

Dorsey will tell the House Energy and Commerce Committee that Twitter does not use political ideology to make decisions, according to a written testimony that was also made public on Tuesday.

Trump criticized Twitter on July 26, without citing any evidence, for limiting the visibility of prominent Republicans through a practice known as shadow ban.

Last week, Trump accused the Google search engine of promoting negative newspaper articles and hiding "fair media" coverage of him, and promised to address the situation without providing evidence or giving details of the steps it could take.

Republicans control the majority in both the Senate and the House, but the House's focus on the electoral issue has been much more partisan than in the Senate.

In the Senate, both the chairman of the Republican Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr, and the Democratic vice president, Mark Warner, said they called Wednesday's hearing to pressure social media companies to do more.

They also asked Alphabet's Google to send a senior executive to testify, but they declined their offer to dispatch Legal Director Kent Walker instead of Alphabet's CEO, Larry Page, saying he wanted a top decision-maker.

Google delivered a & # 39; testimony & # 39; Written by Walker before the hearing, although he was not expected to appear. Like Sandberg, Walker said in his statement that the company was taking the issue of foreign interference in politics very seriously.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Chris Sanders and Lisa Shumaker)

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