Facebook, Google and Twitter to testify in Congress over extremist content
Twitter, Facebook and Google are to be hauled in front of the US Congress again, to give testimony to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation for extremist content.
On 17 January, the three companies are required to give evidence on the steps they are taking to combat the spread of extremist propaganda over the internet, the committee has announced, in a hearing titled “Terrorism and Social Media: Is Big Tech Doing Enough?”.
As with the last major congressional enquiry, into Russian interference in US elections, none of the firms are sending their most senior executives. Instead, the heads of public policy at Twitter, Facebook and YouTube will be speaking for their companies.
The hearing will come a week after the deadline given to the three companies to share information with the Senate intelligence committee about Russian interference. Facebook, Google and Twitter were supposed to respond to a series of detailed written questions from the committee, and while the former two did, Twitter’s reply is still nowhere to be found, two days after the deadline.
“Facebook and Google met the deadline, and [with] voluminous amounts of information, Twitter did not,” Senator Mark Warner, the ranking Democrat on the Committee, told new media site Axios. “I’m disappointed in Twitter.”
“They need to understand when they bring in their senior executives and testify before Congress, when Congress then has follow-up written questions, we expect them to answer those questions,” Warner added. “So if it’s a day or two, fine, but if this is one more attempt for them to kind of punt on their responsibility that will not go down well with the committee.”
Twitter said it “looked forward to finalising” its responses to the intelligence committee soon.
“We are continuing to work closely with committee investigators to provide detailed, thorough answers to their questions,” it said in a statement. “As our review is ongoing, we want to ensure we are providing Congress with the most complete, accurate answers possible.”
Both Twitter and Facebook face an equally strict deadline on the other side of the Atlantic. Damian Collins MP, chair of the DCMS select committee, has given the social networks until 18 January to hand over detailed information about Russian involvement in British votes, including the EU referendum, which they failed to provide when asked in December.