Mon Sep 10th, 2018 at 05:42:00 PM EST
Social Media Executives Testify on Russian Interference in U.S. Elections is C-SPAN's title for the hearing in which Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg appeared before the US Senate Intelligence Committee last week. Colin Stretch, VP & General Counsel, Facebook, Sean Edgett, Acting General Counsel, Twitter, and Richard Salgado, Dir. of Law Enforcement and Information Security, Googgle appeared for US Senate Judiciary Committee questions last October. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, Facebook, has since reluctantly and alone responded to questioning about the company's data marketing and security policies from a joint session of US senate Judiciary and Commerce, Science and Transportation Committees, the US House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and EU Parliament
Chairman Burr, Vice Chairman Warner, Ms Sandberg, and Mr Dorsey began proceedings with opening statements (00:02:00 - 00:31:00), here omitted. Video recorded playback of opening remarks, prepared statements or transcripts of those bromides and platitudes have been archived by various publishers. The format of the hearing was divided into "seven-minute question re-rounds" allocated to committee members. The first segment of sworn testimony is here transcribed to emphasize that since public hearings in 2017 so-called tech companies, incorporated in the USA, fully co-operate with the federal government in telecommunication surveillance, the development of ad hoc US censor codes, as well as the arrests and prosecutions of suspected code offenders.
Lest you imagine immunity among foreign and "foreign-born" correspondents with whom US American citizens communicate, reconsider. Look to the intellectual and instrumental defenses of civil liberties granted by your own governments. How disorderly and lively are "democratic" institutions in your community?
As regimens of "national security" materialize around the world, US federal law enforcement agents are at liberty to evaluate threats posed by telecommunication activity associated by them to the political legitimacy of their leadership ("misinformation"). We have seen cause of action against suspect foreign nationals and domestic offenders range from common frauds, public disclosures of government police actions to communicating "trending" or "influential" topical matter that is not sanctioned by censors to speech acts received as "interference." Here the tools of human discourse about current events are turned against public disagreement.
BURR: This question is to both of you. How would you define social media for this committee and more importantly for the American people? And I'll start with you Ms. Sandberg.
SANDBERG: Social media enables you to share what you want to share when you want to share it without asking permission from anyone. And that's how we meet our mission which is giving people a voice. And I think what's more important than the content people share is the connections they make. Social media enables people to celebrate their birthdays. In the last year people have raised three hundreed million dollars on Facebook on birthday-funders for non-profits they care about. Safety check, millions of people in the worst circustances of their lives have let their loved ones know they're safe. And small businesses to grow. All around the country I meet with small businesses, from a woman making dresses in her living room and selling them on Instagram to a local plumber, who are able to find their customers on Facebook and able to grow and hire people and live their American dream.
DORSEY: I believe it's really important to understand how the people see it. And we believe that the people use Twitter as they would a public square. And they often have the same expectations they would have of any public space. For our part we see our platform as hosting and serving conversation. Those conversations are in the public. I think there's a lot of benefit to those conversations being in the public, but there's obviously a lot of risk as well. We see that news and entertainment are actually by-products of public conversation, and we see our role as helping to, not only to serve that public conversation so that everyone can benefit even if they don't have a Twitter account, but also to increase the health of that conversation as well. And in order to do that we need to be able to measure it. We need to understand what healthy participation looks like in a public square, and we need to amplify that. And more importantly we need to question a lot of the fundamentals we started with twelve years ago in the form of incentives. When people use our product every single day, when they open our app up, what are we incentivizing them to do? Not telling what to do, what are we actually incentivizing them to do. And that certainly speaks to the buttons that we have in our service all the way to our business model.
BURR: Ms Sandberg this question is for you. One root problem is that users don't truly understand the types of data collected on and off your platform. How is that data shared with advertisers or others to deliver target advertising and what vetting, if any do you do on targeted advertising to prevent hostile actors from targeting your users for their products?
SANDBERG: Senator, it's a really important question because it goes to the heart of our service. We sell ads, and we use information that people share with us or share with third-party sites to make those ads relevant to them. But privacy and advertising are not at odds at all in fact they go together. When people share information with us we do not give to advertisers without their permission. We never sell data, and they have control over the information we use.
BURR: Again, for both of you, and I'll start with you, Mr Dorsey. What's your company's ability to collaborate with other social media companies in this space?
DORSEY: uh, We have a real openness to us and we have established regular cadence with our peers. um, We do believe that we have an opportunity to not only create more transparency with an eye toward more accountability but also a more open way of working, a way of working um for instance that allows a review period by the public on how we think about our policies. But more so taking some of the lessons that we have learned and benefited from in the open source software space to actually think about developing our policies, our enforcement and also our products going forward. We've been experimenting a little bit with this recently, but we would like to be a company that is not only hosting an open conversation but is also participating in that open conversation. So we're more than open to more collaboration and not just with our industry peers but with scholars, academics, and also our government partners.
BURR: Thank you. Ms Sandberg?
SANDBERG: [?] our collaboration has greatly increased. We have alsways worked closely with law enforcement, and we continue to do that in particular the FBI's new task force. We've always shared information with other companies, but I think we are doing better and we can continue to do better. Mr Chairman, you noted in your opening remarks that some of the tips we got came from a private security firm. In our mind[s] that's the system working. Our opponents are very well funded. They are very organized, and we're going to get those tips from law enforcement, from each other, from private firms, and the faster we can collaborate, the faster we share those tips with each other, the more, the stronger our collective defenses will be
BURR: Last question from the chair for again both of you. I'll go in reverse to Ms Sandberg. If a foreign influence campaign is detected on your platforms, is there a defined process by which other platforms are alerted to the campaign you've discovered?
SANDBERG: So our security teams have been in close contact and so right now when we find something we are reaching out to our companies, other companies to do it and working more closey to do it. We've been talking about, I think, how there's still room for improvement there. I think, we can do more to formalize the process. We've had a series of meetings, and, I think we're going to continue to work, and we can do better.
BURR: Mr Dorsey?
DORSEY: This is not something we want to compete on. We hosted our peer company, our offices just in the past two weeks on this very topic uh and helping to increase our cadence of meeting and also what we can share. um, If there were an occurence we would immediately look to alert our peer companies and this committee and our government law enforcement partners.
BURR: Thank you for that. Let me just er say in closing that uh I hope both of you, if you see impediments that exist in your ability to notify or collaborate as it relates to um nefarious actors that you'll certainly make this committee aware in cases where we can help with that.
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