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Twitter, Facebook Lawyers to Testify Before Congress on Russia Election Meddling

  • VOA News

FILE - A man is silhouetted in front of a video screen with the Facebook and Twitter logos, in this picture illustration, Oct. 22, 2013.

Lawyers for the social media companies Twitter and Facebook will testify next month at hearings before congressional committees investigating what, if any, effect Russian trolls may have had on the 2016 election.

Google also will send a representative to the hearings, though it has not yet said who would represent the company. Facebook and Twitter will send their general counsels, Colin Stretch and Sean Edgett, respectively.

The lawyers will testify before the Senate and House intelligence committees — two of the congressional panels searching for evidence that Russia sought to interfere in the U.S. election or potentially colluded with the Donald Trump campaign.

Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion with the Russians, and to date, no evidence has emerged to suggest there was collusion. U.S. officials also have said Russia's alleged meddling didn't go so far as to change any votes in the election.

Facebook revealed last month that a group with alleged ties to the Russian government ran $100,000 worth of ads on the platform promoting "divisive" causes like Black Lives Matter. U.S. media reports also indicate Russians purchased similar ads on Google.

Facebook has turned the alleged Russian ads over to Congress, and last week, the company's Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said she "absolutely" supports the public release of the advertisements.

In releasing the ads to Congress, Sandberg said, "It's important that [the investigators] get the whole picture and explain that to the American people."

In response to the Russian ad buys, Sandberg said Facebook is hiring 4,000 new employees to oversee ads and content. She said the company also is using "machine learning and automation" to target fake accounts that spread fake news.

In addition, Twitter has taken action against suspected Russian troll accounts, suspending 22 accounts that corresponded with fake accounts used on Facebook.

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