Congress grills Facebook, Twitter over foreign bids to tilt politics

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Facebook and Twitter executives, defending their companies on Capitol Hill, said Wednesday they are aggressively trying to root out foreign interests seeking to sow divisions in American democracy as the November elections near.

Prior to the hearing, President Donald Trump in an interview with the Daily Caller accused social media companies of interfering in the US mid-term elections in November, without appearing to offer any evidence. The committee wanted Larry Page, the Chief Executive Officer of Google's parent company Alphabet, to testify as well, but the company insisted on sending a lower-level official, drawing the lawmakers' ire. Follow the live blog below.

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, appearing alongside Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey, will say that her company's efforts to combat foreign influence efforts have improved since the 2016 USA election, according to written testimony released on Tuesday.

A committee spokesperson said Walker's "commentary" was not testimony, adding, "We wish his enthusiasm for participating in the company's public hearing extended to his company's senior leadership, and that they were willing to answer the committee's questions". "We acknowledge the real-world negative consequences of what happened, and we take full responsibility to fix it". Twitter says Trump not exempt from being banned Trump praises Arizona governor's pick of Jon Kyl to succeed McCain MORE (R-Ariz.) at a hearing Wednesday morning focused on foreign influence operations on social media.

The company is getting better at finding and removing "inauthentic" content and now has more than 20,000 people working on safety and security, she said.

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"Over the last 18 months we've met with dozens of Committee Members and briefed major Congressional Committees numerous times on our work to prevent foreign interference in U.S. elections", a Google spokesperson said in a statement. "However, we've also seen what can happen when our service is abused".

Earlier this year the company said it was taking aggressive measures to combat inauthentic accounts.

Dorsey's comments come days after President Donald Trump accused technology firms of "censorship" and suppressing conservative voices.

Both hearings will also give lawmakers their latest chance to show their own mastery of the technological material and brush off some criticism that followed the April hearing with Zuckerberg in which some Senators didn't seem to understand some basics about the social network.

According to the newspaper, there were at least two separate occasions where Dorsey favored keeping the far-right activists on the social media platform.

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