Google snubs Senate hearings on election meddling

Jack Dorsey 2015

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg will testify before a US Senate select committee on election interference on Wednesday.

In prepared testimony released ahead of a House hearing Wednesday afternoon, Dorsey says his company does not use political ideology to make decisions, and aims to make as many voices heard as possible.

While there will likely be some technical discussions during the testimony, Dorsey may face some tough questions from the House.

But no executive from Alphabet Inc's Google is expected to testify, after the company declined the Senate Intelligence Committee's request to send one of its most senior executives, frustrating lawmakers.

FILE PHOTO: Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer and Member of the Board, attends the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, January 18, 2017.

She is planning to tell the Senate committee that Facebook is removing fake accounts and pages, employing fact-checkers to stop the spread of inaccurate information, and more prominently disclosing which organization has paid for an advertisement that a Facebook user sees.

In August, Twitter came under fire from its users and even from some employees for not joining numerous top social media platforms in banning Alex Jones. Thirteen Russians were indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller this year on charges of an elaborate plot to disrupt the 2016 USA presidential election by creating fake accounts that pushed divisive issues on social media.

In prepared testimony released by Facebook Tuesday, Sandberg said that Facebook was "too slow to spot" Russia's purported influence operation and "too slow to act". Google and other tech companies have denied any political bias. Google offered another executive instead, and the committee said no. Walker said in his statement that the company was taking the issue of foreign interference in politics very seriously.

In recent weeks Facebook has revealed the existence of multiple influence operations meant to influence politics in a manner similar to Russia's 2016 intervention, aimed at the United States, as well as other countries around the world. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonThe Hill's Morning Report - Senate battlefield grows with 70 days until midterms Grassley: Trump will tackle prison reform "soon after" the midterms Trump: No action on criminal justice reform before midterms MORE (R-Ark.), Sandberg and Dorsey said they would not do business with China in a way that could undermine USA national security, as Cotton accused Google of doing.

During Wednesday's hearing, Sandberg reiterated that such threats would continue and that Facebook would keep working to address them.

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