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Facebook, Twitter and Google Berated by Senators on Russia (bbc.com) 176

From a BBC report: Russian operatives, likely working from St Petersburg, provoked angry Americans to take to the streets, a US Senate committee heard on Wednesday. The May 2016 protest, arranged by a group named Heart of Texas, was one example of Kremlin-backed efforts to destabilise the American electoral process. Lawyers for three technology companies -- Facebook, Twitter and Google -- were told they were grossly underestimating the scale of the problem. "You just don't get it," said California Senator Dianne Feinstein. "What we're talking about is a cataclysmic change. What we're talking about is the beginning of cyber-warfare." She added: "We are not going to go away, gentlemen. This is a very big deal." [...] Several senators suggested that more hearings and consultation would be needed, expressing their frustration that the companies were not being represented by higher-ranking executives. "I'm disappointed that you're here, and not your CEOs," said independent senator Angus King. From a FastCompany report: Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) had one specific and simple question for Facebook's Colin Stretch. He wanted to know about 30,000 fake accounts Facebook discovered earlier this year that were trying to influence the French election. At the time, Facebook bragged that it was able to discover these accounts and swiftly took them down. Warner wanted to know if Facebook, after discovering these accounts, cross-checked to see if these same accounts also tried to tamper with the U.S. election. "Your leadership bragged about how proactively you were in the French election process," said Warner, "Did you check those accounts [with the U.S. election]?" Stretch couldn't give a straight answer. "The system that ran to take down those accounts -- which were fake accounts of all type and any purpose -- is now active worldwide," he said. Warner wasn't amused. "Just answer my question," he said. "Have you reviewed the accounts you took down in France that were Russian-related to see if they played any role in the American election?" Once again, Facebook couldn't answer.
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Facebook, Twitter and Google Berated by Senators on Russia

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  • All these silicon valley people skewing things around to help Trump!

    I'm sure the celebrities and college professors are right behind the tech firms.
    • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2017 @02:35PM (#55471421) Journal

      They are mixed on T. While the tech firms love deregulation and lower taxes, they don't like losing their supply of overseas labor, and don't like being told when and how include/exclude security features to allegedly help law enforcement and DHS.

      • by Etcetera ( 14711 )

        The leadership is focused on their fiduciary duty and/or utopian political aspirations. With Trump in office, they're facing the potential for negative regulatory actions against them for the first time since the DOJ went after Microsoft in the '90s... And frankly, they deserve it. Facebook and Google have more control over American lives than Standard Oil ever did.

        Republicans might have a reputation for being pro-Big Business, but being yelled at for years by overpowered tech companies and their left-to-fa

        • If the motive was really fiduciary duty the companies would do a LOT better.

          Right now the NFL, Twitter, Facebook, and CNN (over Fox, but Fox could be included) are seen as political organizations.

          The NFL and Twitter would have larger bottom lines if they were seen as politically neutral in general, but it doesn't seem to steer much.
  • Headline is a mess (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TWX ( 665546 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2017 @02:24PM (#55471339)

    Facebook, Twitter and Google Berated by Senators on Russia

    Took a bit to parse this.

    Logically it feels more like the subjects are just swapped. "Russia Berated by Senators on Facebook, Twitter, and Google"

    Then it looks like the senators that are doing the berating are Russian.

    It would need to read something like, "Senators berate Facebook, Twitter, and Google on Russian Interference"

  • They can berate all they want. They can't get any meaningful legislation through. This is all just deck chairs on the Titanic. Meanwhile the Republicans are 3 seats away from holding a Constitutional Convention. That should end well.
  • This was just a bunch of grandstanding and none of it will go anywhere, too easily to run into 1st amendment issues.
  • by PeeAitchPee ( 712652 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2017 @03:10PM (#55471643)
    Check it out, a politician is demanding that a citizen give a straight answer!
    • by Anonymous Coward

      You forgot about definition of Congress - is opposite of Progress...

  • by shess ( 31691 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2017 @03:10PM (#55471645) Homepage

    So if some site in Russia is posting divisive crap to try to manipulate American opinions, that's bad. But if some idiot in Boulder creates an opaque network of sites posting divisive crap to drive ad revenue, well that's just fine?

    Some tools are just tools, and you need to look at the users to figure out if the tool is being used badly. The tools in question are DESIGNED to divide us and influence us to do things we wouldn't choose to do if we actually thought about it. Russia having access to these tools is a relatively minor problem in the overall scheme of things, but I guess it's easier to blame Russia, throw in some stupid "fixes" which don't address the underlying problem, and claim victory.

    • Well the issue at hand is that it was assumed that the vast majority of US citizens were good people who generally did not desire the total destruction of the country followed shortly by the world and possibly the entire planet through global thermonuclear war. Unfortunately, baked into this admittedly possibly naive but up until recently provably true assumption was the additional and quite fatal assumption that hostile foreign entities weren't participating in the conversation at all so it didn't need to

      • by Anonymous Coward

        These tools are not for the vast majority of Americans. They are for institutions to manipulate the public - that's what advertising is.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    California Senator Dianne Feinstein said: Nothing of value.
  • by Rick Schumann ( 4662797 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2017 @03:27PM (#55471779) Journal
    Overall it seems to cause more problems than the alleged 'benefits' it provides. Twitter, Facebook, etc, please just die.
    • The problem is twitter/facebook users. They won't get any smarter if the sites die. They will just spew their bullshit over the wider web.

      Leave them in their ghettos.

  • Ad revenue (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Two words speak louder than anything. Google, Facebook and Twitter get it. They did it for the Ad Revenue. Plan and simple. The online advertising industry is wild wild west and it is a joke. Anything can be stated without any facts as long as you pay for the ad campaign.

  • I do hope you realise that you're addressing a bunch of ideologists and opportunists who frequently name their companies, kids, projects, etc., after Ayn Rand and titles and characters from her novels. They don't believe in big gubbermint, except for a source of very lucrative contracts, and so really don't believe they have to listen to you. Freeze their big gubbermint contracts and then ask them your questions. You'll get a much more sincere response from them then. Then again, they may just turn around a
  • They are a bunch of liars.. who in order to misdirect the public, and provoking fear by hyping up what happens ACROSS THE WOLRD, BY EVERY COUNTRY.... ie.. the dark arts. The sad thing is the American public is dumb enough to fall for this shit.

  • The interests of social media companies and the interests of politicians are divergent. What interests the public and the public interest are divergent. Very little of this is about the truth, it is about self interest.

    What we are seeing is social media acting as a big multiplier of the Herman Chomsky media filters, aka group think.

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them WHAT to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. -- Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.

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