Facebook, Google, Twitter execs to head back to Capitol Hill

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg met with Rep. Tony Cardenas and other lawmakers at the US Capitol in October to discuss how its social media platform was used by Russians to interfere in the 2016 US presidential election.

Drew Angerer/Techhnews

Executives from Facebook, Twitter and Google will once again be questioned by lawmakers on Capitol Hill about Russian interference in US elections, according to a report from BuzzFeed.

Sen. Richard Burr, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is planning to hold a September hearing on how the internet companies’ platforms have been used to sway American voters with misinformation, the news site reported Wednesday.

“I don’t know the exact date but it’s that first week,” Burr told BuzzFeed News on Wednesday.

The committee has invited representatives from Facebook, Twitter and Google to testify, an unnamed source told BuzzFeed. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, and Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, have both confirmed their attendance, the site said. But Google CEO Sundar Pichai hasn’t yet responded to the panel’s invitation, according to BuzzFeed.

Facebook and Twitter declined to comment, and a representative from Google didn’t respond to requests for comment. Sen. Burr’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment either, but a source close to the committee confirmed to Techhnews that a hearing is in the works and that Sandberg and Dorsey have confirmed they’ll appear.

The hearing comes as Congress looks to hold Silicon Valley accountable for the influence Russia was able to wield using tech platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube during the 2016 election. Lawmakers have sought answers from executives about how these companies were used by Russians to disseminate misinformation that influenced the election and also to explain what many Republicans believe has been unfair censorship of conservative views on their platforms.

Silicon Valley executives have traveled several times already to Washington to discuss these issues, and several executives have already testified before Congress. In November, representatives from these companies appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg trekked to Capitol Hill in April to testify at a joint hearing of the Senate Commerce and Judiciary Committees and a separate hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Zuckerberg addressed questions about political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, which had used information gathered from millions of Facebook users without their knowledge.

Earlier this month, executives from Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, which is owned by Google parent company Alphabet, testified before the House Judiciary Committee about how they moderate their platforms.

This will be the first time executives from these companies will testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee, which has been investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election. 

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