Tech Giants Asked to Testify in Probe of Russian Meddling

Executives from Google, Facebook and Twitter were asked to testify before the U.S. Congress over the coming weeks as U.S. lawmakers probe the alleged interference by Russia in the U.S. election last year, said committee sources Wednesday.

An aide in the Senate said that executives from the three tech giants were asked by that chamber’s Intelligence Committee to appear before them on November 1 for a public hearing.

The House of Representatives’ Intelligence Committee leaders said the group would have an open hearing in October with representatives from technology companies, no yet named, in an attempt to better understand the way Russia used online platforms and tools to create discord in as well as influence the election.

Google and Facebook representatives confirmed they received invitations from the Intelligence committee in the Senate, but nothing was said if the two tech companies were going to attend. Twitter has not responded to messages requesting its comment.

The panel in the House has not identified any of the companies invited, but a source in the committee said that lawmakers were expecting to hear from those same firms – Google, Facebook and Twitter – that were asked to testify in front of the Senate.

These requests are the most recent move by investigators in Congress to gain more information from companies on the Internet, as they probe how deep Moscow’s alleged efforts in disrupting the U.S. election

Lawmakers from both parties are more concerned that social networks might have been a key participant in the influence operations of Russia.

Facebook revealed earlier in September that suspected trolls from Russia had purchased over $100,000 in divisive ads on its site, during the election cycle of 2016, a revelation prompting call from Democrats for new rules in disclosure for political ads online.

President Donald Trump on Wednesday attacked Facebook through a tweet and made the suggestion that the largest social media site in the world colluded with other outlets of media that were opposed to him.

Trump has been quite skeptical of conclusions made by the intelligence agencies in the U.S. that Russia had interfered in last year’s election and denied his campaign had colluded Moscow.

His tweet prompted a long rebuke from CEO at Facebook Mark Zuckerberg, who said that both liberals and Trump were upset with ideas and the content on Facebook during the election campaign.

That is what operating a platform that is for all ideas appears like, wrote Zuckerberg on own his own Facebook page.

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