Executives from Facebook , Alphabet Inc’s Google and Twitter will appear in the US Congress in the coming weeks as lawmakers probe Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 US election, committee sources said on Wednesday.
A Senate aide said executives from the three firms had been asked by the Senate Intelligence Committee to testify at a public hearing on Nov. 1.
The leaders of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee said the panel would hold an open hearing with technology companies as part of its investigation.
Lawmakers said that they want to hear testimony from top officials at Twitter, Google and Facebook
‘In the coming month, we will hold an open hearing with representatives from tech companies in order to better understand how Russia used online tools and platforms to sow discord in and influence our election,’ the committee’s top Democrat, Representative Adam Schiff, and Representative Mike Conaway, the Republican leading the investigation, said in a statement.
They did not immediately identify any companies. But a committee source said the House panel hoped to hear from the same firms.
‘We anticipate it will be necessary for the American people to hear directly from tech companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google, as well as other relevant experts,’ the source said.
Some US lawmakers, increasingly alarmed about evidence that hackers used the internet to spread fake news and otherwise influence the 2016 election, have been pushing for more information about the influence of social networks in particular.
The Senate and House intelligence committees are two of the main congressional panels probing allegations that Russia sought to interfere in the US election to boost Republican President Donald Trump’s chances at winning the White House, and possible collusion between Trump associates and Russia.
Top executives at America’s largest tech companies are expected to testify before Congress in the coming month
Congress said to be alarmed about evidence that hackers used the internet to spread fake news
Google has said it was not used in the alleged Russian operation during 2016 (Pictured: Larry Page, left, and Sergey Brin, co-founders of Google Inc)
Moscow denies any such activity, and Trump dismissed any talk of such collusion.
Facebook recently revealed that for just $100,000, apparent Russia-linked buyers placed some 3,000 advertisements on its pages last year that appeared aimed at influencing the election.
Facebook has turned the details of those ads over to investigators. According to reports, the ads sought to boost the Democratic and Republican rivals of then-election frontrunner Hillary Clinton, as well as to sow discord among Americans in ways that would damage Clinton’s voter base.
‘The vast majority of ads run by these accounts didn’t specifically reference the US presidential election, voting or a particular candidate,’ Facebook Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos said early this month.
‘Rather, the ads and accounts appeared to focus on amplifying divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum — touching on topics from LGBT matters to race issues to immigration to gun rights.’
Google, a unit of Alphabet, has said it was not used in the alleged Russian campaign to steer the US election.
But according to Buzzfeed, its automated ad-targeting system lets advertisers direct ads to people using racist and anti-Semitic search terms.
Twitter meanwhile has been shown to be a dense thicket of easily faked accounts and news items that allowed alleged Russian operatives to pump out politically divisive and anti-Clinton tweets.
Facebook revealed recently that it sold $100,000 worth advertisements to possible Russia-linked buyers (Pictured: Russian President Vladimir Putin Sept. 27, 2017)