Google A No-Show As Facebook, Twitter Executives Testify To Senate Panel

Twitter's Jack Dorsey left and Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg

Twitter's Jack Dorsey left and Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg

The committee also took a shot at Alphabet CEO Larry Page, who declined an invitation to appear, by leaving out an empty chair.

"Over the past weeks, President Trump and many Republicans have peddled conspiracy theories about Twitter and other social media platforms to whip up their base and fundraise", said Representative Frank Pallone, the committee's top Democrat. "Because I know our members have a series of hard questions about structural vulnerabilities on a number of Google's platforms that we will need answered". Google offered another executive instead, and the committee said no.

Google was accused of being "arrogant" today for refusing to send a top executive to a Senate hearing into the manipulation of social media.

Google did publish "testimony" online, where Walker wrote that the company is "committed to working with Congress on these issues".

At a separate Senate hearing earlier on Wednesday, Dorsey and Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg faced threats of legislative action from skeptical lawmakers over what many members of Congress see as a failure to block fake accounts and other foreign efforts to influence us politics.

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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're extremely proud of helping to increase the accessibility and velocity of a simple, free and open exchange", Dorsey said.

The search giant hastaken heat recently over reports of its considering introducing a Chinese search engine that would comply with that government's censorship laws.

The companies have conveyed to the commission that all sponsored content in favour of a political party, political leader or candidate will flag the concerned sponsor and the amount paid for posting the content on Facebook, WhatsApp (owned by Facebook), Google or Twitter.

"After some initial false starts, it seems like there has been a shift in the culture of your company", Warner said, though he raised the specter of congressional action.

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"The era of the wild west in social media is coming to an end", warned Senator Mark Warner, the vice-chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, in his opening remarks on Wednesday morning. "As [Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.)] has noted, 'Nothing less than the integrity of our democratic institutions, processes and ideals is at stake.' We agree, and we are determined to meet this challenge". The measure has not advanced in the chamber. Facebook, Twitter and Google revealed at the time that Russian's had set up fake accounts to spread propaganda and misinformation in an attempt to sway the political opinions of Americans.

Congress has sharply criticized the social media companies over the past year as it has become clear that they were at the forefront of Russia's interference in the 2016 elections and beyond. In testimony released before that hearing, Dorsey denied that Twitter uses political ideology to make decisions.

"We fixed it", Dorsey said.

Only after CNN highlighted several tweets that clearly violated Twitter's TOS did the social media platform suspend Jones - and only for one week.

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