Election Security Concerns: Facebook, Twitter Execs Testify Before Congress

Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey were called before Congress to explain and testify how foreign actors use their social media platforms to spread misinformation.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey were on Wednesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Foreign Influence Operations and Their Use of Social Media Platforms on Capitol Hill, in Washington.

This comes after President Donald Trump claimed that social media platforms systematically censor members of the conservative party.

However, on Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Jack Dorsey had overiden his own staff in order to ensure that right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones was allowed to maintain his Twitter account. 

Facebook, Twitter are not alone: Joining forces on fighting hate speech on social media 

The common problem of hate speech and the use of online platforms by those trying to propagate it calls for an industry-wide joint response. There is precedent that technology giants tend to coordinate efforts when faced with a common threat to their platforms. 

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In a joint announcement made last year, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and YouTube formalized their Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism in which the tech and social media companies announced their partnership that aims to curb the threat of terrorist content online. Back then, the companies expressed their commitment to fighting hate speech as their common goal.

Technology companies that want to hold onto the privilege of self-regulation have the responsibility to coordinate the policies that regulate speech and also enable startups and smaller technology companies to get access to these policies and enforcement mechanisms.

Facebook and Twitter security concerns: Technology in place

Facebook and Twitter promised to activate better security resources in order to protect users from disinformation campaigns by foreign adversaries that could play a role influencing the November U.S. mid-term elections.

Twitter found accounts that may be linked to the Russians and has already suspended 3,843 accounts. Other social media companies have also made policy changes that caught and banned numerous malicious accounts during the past year.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg's testimony also detailed efforts to remove Facebook pages and other content that where found to be linked to Russians or others who are members of the GRU, a Russian Federation intelligence agency. "Everyone here knows this is an arms race, and that means we need to be ever more vigilant," she said.

"Twitter does not use political ideology to make any decisions, whether related to ranking content on our service or how we enforce our rules," Jack Dorsey said. Dorsey said Twitter uses behavioral signals that can help identify spam and abuse.

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