Facebook and Twitter are being questioned by senators, to find out how they will avoid interfering in the upcoming elections.
Facebook is being represented by its chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, while Twitter sent to ceo Jack Dorsey.
As expected, Google has not been presented.
The opening of the hearing, Democratic senator Mark Warner said he was “deeply disappointed” Google “chose not to send its own top leadership of the company”.
The senate committee is focusing on what the tech giants are doing to prevent future election meddling.
The hearing follows claims that Russian and other foreign players in the spread of disinformation and propaganda in advance of the presidential election of 2016.
“With the benefit of hindsight, it is obvious that serious mistakes have been committed by both Facebook and Twitter. You, as the U.S. government, were taken aback by the brazen attacks on our elections. Even after the election, you have been reluctant to admit that there has been a problem,” said Mr. Warner.
He warned that social networks could do in the face of new regulations.
“The era of the wild west in social media is coming to an end. Where do we go from here is an open question,” he said at the hearing.
The preparation of witness
Before the hearing, Facebook has submitted written testimony describing how he had disabled the 1.27 billion of fake accounts in the world between October 2017 March 2018.
He said he employed 20,000 people to work on safety and security.
In July, the social network announced that it had withdrawn from 32 accounts and pages have been put in place to influence the mid-term u.s. elections in November.
A month later, he said he had removed hundreds of other “misleading”, the pages and the accounts of targeted people in the Middle East, Latin America, the united KINGDOM and the united states.
In August, the committee heard from technology experts, who said many companies are not doing enough to combat the threats posed by Russia and other foreign actors.
“This is one of the defining threats of our generation,” Renee Diresta, director of research, New Knowledge, a company that identifies the social media of disinformation, told senators.
In a blog post in advance of the meeting today, she said that the ease of access to social media platforms has allowed Russia to create fake stories.
“The burning question is how the social media companies allow that to happen, and why have they been unable to detect it?”
She said that the senators were likely to ask if companies such as Facebook have “become too big and have too much control over the market and the consumer” which in turn makes them “a threat to democracy”.
And there would be questions about the role played by robots, with politicians honing in on whether the companies algorithms leads the people towards elections and the propaganda, asking whether such software may in the future be audited by a third party.
Accusations of bias
Twitter is Dorsey will also face questions from the House Committee on Energy and Commerce considered conservative censorship on its platform.
The president, Trump has repeatedly accused Google, Facebook and Twitter of bias and threatened to regulation of platforms.
In a written testimony submitted in advance of the hearing, Mr. Dorsey denied that his firm to highlight some of the accounts in the search results, a practice known as “shadow ban”.
“Twitter does not use political ideology to make decisions, whether it is a collation of content on our service or how we enforce our rules,” he says.
“We don’t shadow-ban anyone based on political ideology.”