Lawmakers slam social media giants for fake news and Russian ads

Thursday, 02 Nov, 2017

"Thanks to Obama's and Hillary's policy, illegals come here because they wait for amnesty promised", the ad, which appears to have been shared over 1,000 times, continued.

He told the lawyers: "I'm disappointed that you're here".

Warner's fellow Democrats were similarly tough on the companies. Dianne Feinstein. "What we're talking about is a cataclysmic change".

"Ironically, one person who attended stated, 'The Heart of Texas promoted this event, but we didn't see one of them, '" Burr added. Mark Warner as Congress held a second day of hearings on the issue.

Tech firms tried to draw attention to work that they were doing to improve and crack down on malicious foreign actors but were shot down in many cases by lawmakers who called their work to vague. US lawmakers have threatened tougher regulation and fired questions at Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch in hearings this week. "We are determined to do everything we can do to minimize abuse going forward", Sandberg said.

Facebook general counsel Colin Stretch told a hearing that Instagram posts by suspect Russian accounts were seen by some 20 million Americans previous year. Facebook said the new estimation technology is also why it now pegs duplicate accounts at 10% of monthly active users, versus 6% last quarter. At left is Twitter's Acting General Counsel Sean Edgett.

Of the Russian Federation scandal enveloping Facebook publicly, Feinseth said: "In the bigger picture, I don't think it's a really big factor".

"This is bigger than any one company", Stretch said at one point.

The ad was targeted at people in the USA who had expressed interest in conservative commentators including Laura Ingraham, Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh and also those who expressed an interest in Christianity, Jesus, and "Conservatism in the United States".

During the hearing, both Warner and Burr also revealed new examples of efforts on Facebook carried out by the Internet Research Agency, a Kremlin-linked "troll farm" that has created and disseminated digital content with the intent to misinform Americans. Facebook had previously disclosed that 126 million accounts were served that content on Facebook.

"If we go through this exercise again, we would appreciate seeing the top people who are making the decision", said Senator Angus King, an independent.

All three companies said they saw Russian activity on their platforms as early as the beginning of 2015, before the presidential election kicked off in earnest.

Like yesterday, the companies will face questions about the extent of Russian-backed propaganda on their platforms and the role it played in influencing American voters during the 2016 election. They included a "Heart of Texas" post pushing for the state to secede from the US, as well as posts from a page called "United Muslims of America".