Senators Bash Google at Russian Election Meddling Hearing | Social Networking

By John P. Mello Jr.

Sep 6, 2018 5:00 AM PT

An empty chair reserved for Google grew to become the point of interest for harsh criticism Wednesday on the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee’s listening to on Russian meddling within the 2016 elections.

After thanking Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey for agreeing to testify on the discussion board, Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., added, “I’m disappointed Google decided against sending the right senior level executive to participate in what I truly expect to be a productive discussion.”

Vice Chairman Mark R. Warner, D-Va., additionally expressed displeasure. “I’m deeply disappointed that Google, one of the most influential digital platforms in the world, chose not to send its own top corporate leadership to engage this committee.”

Google must reply questions on conspiracy theories surfacing on Google Search, divisive movies posted to YouTube by Russian brokers, and Gmail hacks by state-sponsored operatives, Warner maintained.

“Google has an immense responsibility in this space,” he noticed. “Given its size and influence, I would have thought the leadership of Google would have wanted to demonstrate how seriously it takes these challenges and actually take a leadership role in this important discussion.”

U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee listening to on overseas affect operations’ use of social media platforms, Sept 5, 2018.

Arrogance or Dodging Questions?

Google dodged the listening to both as a result of it was “arrogant” or as a result of it didn’t need reply questions on a Google Transparency Project report that exposed how simple it’s for Russian troll farms to purchase promoting on the service, instructed Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

“Perhaps Google didn’t send a senior executive today because they’ve recently taken actions — such as terminating cooperation they’ve had with the American military on programs like artificial intelligence — that are designed not just to protect our troops and help them fight and win our country’s wars, but to protect civilians as well,” stated Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark.

“This is at the very same time that they continue to cooperate with the Chinese Communist Party on matters like artificial intelligence or partner with Huawei and other Chinese telecom companies that are effectively arms of the Chinese Communist Party,” he continued.

“Credible reports” counsel that Google has been working to develop a brand new search engine to fulfill the Chinese Communist Party’s censorship requirements, after having disclaimed any intent to take action eight years in the past, Cotton stated.

“Perhaps they didn’t send a witness to answer these questions because there is no answer to those questions,” he stated.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg testifies before The Senate Intelligence Committee in a hearing on foreign influence operations and their use of social media platforms on Sept. 5, 2018.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg testifies earlier than The Senate Intelligence Committee in a listening to on overseas affect operations and their use of social media platforms on Sept. 5, 2018.

Communication Breakdown

Despite committee members’ ideas on the contrary, Google stated it has been cooperating with the Senate panel for months.

“Over the last 18 months we’ve met with dozens of committee members and briefed major congressional committees numerous times on our work to prevent foreign interference in U.S. elections,” Google spokesperson Riva B. Sciuto stated.

“Our senior vice president of global affairs and chief legal officer, who reports directly to our CEO and is responsible for our work in this area, will be in Washington, D.C., today (Wednesday), where he will deliver written testimony, brief members of Congress on our work, and answer any questions they have,” she continued.

“We had informed the Senate Intelligence Committee of this in late July and had understood that he would be an appropriate witness for this hearing,” Sciuto added.

If Google had been dodging the listening to, it could possibly be a foul miscalculation for the company.

“Google hiding out will backfire, since this isn’t going away,” stated James A. Lewis, senior vice president and the director of the know-how and public coverage program for the
Center for Strategic and International Studies, a bipartisan, nonprofit coverage analysis group in Washington, D.C.

Social Animal of Different Color

Although Google seems to have been able to take its place within the empty chair beside Sandberg and Dorsey, it might have much less in widespread with Facebook and Twitter than the miffed members of the Intelligence committee want to consider.

Twitter Cofounder Jack Dorsey testifies before The Senate Intelligence Committee in a hearing on foreign influence operations and their use of social media platforms on Sept. 5, 2018.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey testifies earlier than The Senate Intelligence Committee in a listening to on overseas affect operations and their use of social media platforms on Sept. 5, 2018.

“Google has a very different story to tell than Twitter or Facebook,” stated Karen North, director of USC Annenberg’s
Digital Social Media program.

“They provide people with searches for products and services,” she advised TechNewsWorld. “What they’re not doing is providing social interaction like Facebook and Twitter.”

Google could have some issues in widespread with social networks, however it “doesn’t want to be lumped together with Twitter and Facebook,” he advised TechNewsWorld. “Google has issues with privacy, with monopoly, but search is different from social media.”

Changes Coming

The Intelligence Committee’s Wednesday listening to was the fourth in a collection of boards on Russian election meddling. Where the lawmakers will take the knowledge they’ve gathered from the classes stays to be seen. One goal for laws could also be promoting.

“It’s likely these hearings will result in the laws on advertising imposed on traditional media being extended to social media,” USC’s North stated, “but for the daily users of social media, there won’t be much change, except the reduction of misleading ads that look like news stories.”

Regulating social media will likely be laborious due to free speech points, the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Lewis advised TechNewsWorld. That doesn’t suggest, nonetheless, that the businesses will not change their methods.

“People are tired of the companies disclaiming responsibility by saying they are only the platform,” he stated. “In response, the companies will change how they do business.”

Problem Without a Solution

Still, the social media firms could also be unable to handle their issues with out legislative intervention, Lewis instructed.

“It will be hard to craft regulation in the U.S., but the Europeans will be less constrained and are very unhappy with the U.S. giants,” he stated. “The best solution might be holding the companies accountable, through regulation, on being transparent to their users about other users and news sources.”

The Senate hearings are primarily an train in public relations, famous John Carroll, assistant professor of mass communication at
Boston University.

“The lawmakers want to seem like they’re addressing these problems, and the tech companies want to seem like they’re addressing the problems,” he advised TechNewsWorld. “Many of these problems are essentially unsolvable. The digital space is just too vast for them to control it in the way that some lawmakers want it to be controlled.”

John P. Mello Jr. has been an ECT News Network reporter
since 2003. His areas of focus embody cybersecurity, IT points, privateness, e-commerce, social media, synthetic intelligence, huge information and shopper electronics. He has written and edited for quite a few publications, together with the Boston Business Journal, the
Boston Phoenix, Megapixel.Net and Government
Security News
. Email John.


Tech News


Show More

Related Articles