Recently, some of the big tech companies were present on Capitol Hill for hearings on the Russian interference efforts in this past presidential election investigation. Those companies consisted of Facebook, Twitter, and Google. Likewise, during the hearing it was stated by many of the media companies that the “total number of users across those platforms who may have seen content created by Russian operatives leading up to the election is now estimated at more than 100 million, according to lawyers for the companies.” In addition, the head of the Judiciary Senate Committee Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. praised the companies for all the positives that they have brought to the American citizenry, but the Senator also acknowledged that these sites have shown to be vulnerable to foreign interference that can be malevolent.
During its opening statements, Facebook acknowledged that approximately 126 million users of its site have viewed content that originated from operatives from Russia. Likewise, Facebook also informed the committee that another 10 million of its users may have been exposed to advertisements that have their origins from Russia as well. Yet, Facebook failed to state approximately how many users viewed Russia-linked content that was organically shared via their format. Moreover, that content is said to have been meant to increase the divide within the American citizenry on hot-button issues such as LGBT to immigration issues.
Twitter likewise stated that the spread of Russian propaganda had been found to be greater than previously reported to be. Twitter stated in its opening statements that approximately 2752 Russian linked accounts and many other Russian interferences were discovered in its system. Likewise, Twitter stated that these links/accounts tweeted roughly 1.4 million times throughout the election. Moreover, it was stated that all this interference has had a negative impact on the user experience on the app thus the company is working hard to rebuild that confidence.
All three tech companies failed to offer their explicit support for Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn’s legislation proposal yet Google stated that Facebook, Twitter, and themselves want to achieve the same result that the legislation proposed. Moreover, all three tech companies did offer their assistance in the editing of the legislation, so it would benefit the tech companies as well. As a result, many were surprised that these hearings lacked the fireworks that they were all preparing for. Also, Senator Kennedy expressed his frustration with social media giant Facebook “suggesting that it could track the source of funding for all 5 million of its monthly advertisers.” Consequently, Kennedy stated that Facebook does a lot of good with its power, but the amount of power alarms him.