Facebook’s head of global policy management, Monika Bickert, said that “a few thousand” out of some 2 billion posts were ascribed to …
(Washington Times) Executives from Facebook, Twitter and YouTube told Congress Tuesday that while they had identified accounts and posts linked to Russian internet operatives, their activity during the 2016 election was but a drop in the social media ocean.
Twice, Juniper Downs, a YouTube executive, said they had found a mere $5,000 in spending and some 1,000 videos that could be traced to Russian meddling.
At another point in the ouse Judiciary Committee hearing, Facebook’s head of global policy management, Monika Bickert, said that “a few thousand” out of some 2 billion posts were ascribed to Russian sources.
Indeed, the executives spoke only of Russian meddling, and repeatedly dodged questions about whether they had found similar efforts from other countries perceived as hostile to the United States, such as China and North Korea.
Their testimony seemed to dovetail with the recent indictments of Russian agents brought by Independent Counsel Robert Mueller’s sprawling investigation, given that when announcing them Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said there was no evidence the alleged activity had influenced a single vote.
Nevertheless, despite such disclaimers and the minuscule nature of the Russian-linked work, Democrats labored throughout the day to paint the 2016 election as somehow tainted. Several Democrats spoke of “threats to American democracy,” as they thundered about the underhanded efforts and President Trump’s Monday comments, which one Democrat likened to Pearl Harbor.
Tuesday’s hearing was the committee’s second on the topic of social media behemoths’ alleged muzzling of conservative voices, either through “shadowbanning” or outright exile of some viewpoints.
Republican lawmakers planned the hearing as a follow-up to one in April on the same topic at which most social media giants did not participate.
It immediately broke down into partisan bickering and theater Tuesday, with minority Democrats highlighting instead President Trump’s Monday press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.
Republican Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, the committee chairman, opened the hearing by noting Facebook recently censored a Texas newspaper’s posting of quotes from the Declaration of Independence, which a company algorithm flagged as hate speech.
“The online environment is becoming more polarized — not less; and there are concerns that discourse is being squelched — not facilitated,” Mr. Goodlatte read in his opening statement. “Moreover, society as a whole is finding it difficult to define what these social media platforms are and what they do. For example, some would like to think of them as government actors, as public utilities as advertising agencies, or as media publishers — each with its own set of legal implications and potential shortfalls.”
It was clear the Republican members hoped to laser in on myriad other examples in which conservative tweeters, video makers or social media posters have been “shadowbanned,” through which their audience has declined, and on reports left-wing outfits like the Southern Poverty Law Center had been hired as a kind of arbiter for Facebook on what constitutes “hate speech” or “fake news.”
Democrats countered with examples of their own, such as the conspiracy-laden InfoWars, and Facebook’s recent hiring of former Republican senator Jon Kyl of Arizona to help it weed out bias that could stem from its left-leaning management ranks.
As soon as Democrats got the floor, however, they launched a sustained attempt to jerk the hearing’s focus off its stated topic and toward President Trump’s Monday press conference. Following a summit with Mr. Putin in Helsinki, the two leaders appeared together and Mr. Trump declined to back unequivocally the opinion of American’s intelligence community that the Russians tried to interfere in the 2016 U.S. elections.
Please SUBSCRIBE in the right sidebar at RickWells.US to receive my posts directly by email, safely beyond the censorship of little comrade Zuckerberg. Thank you.