Facebook's COO Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter's founder and CEO Jack Dorsey addressed the Senate Intelligence Committee Wednesday morning about how their respective platforms can better protect billions of users against fake news, propaganda, harassment, and hate speech. Richard Burr (R-NC) and Mark Warner (D-VA) expressed their appreciation for the steps Facebook and Twitter have taken to regain control of their platforms. We aren't proud of how that free and open exchange has been weaponized and used to distract and divide people, and our nation.
The afternoon hearing in the House Energy and Commerce Committee will feature only Dorsey in a hearing focused on bias and the platform's algorithms.
Senator Richard Burr, the committee's Republican chairman, said he expected the hearing would focus on solutions to the problem of foreign efforts to influence U.S. elections and sow political discord, with a jab at Google.
"We don't have all the investigative tools that the government has, and we can't always attribute attacks or identify motives", Sandberg said in prepared remarks. "We are learning from what happened, and we are improving".
Conservative Republicans in Congress have criticized social media companies for what they say are politically motivated practices in removing some content, a charge the companies have repeatedly rejected.
"The actions we've taken in response. show our determination to do everything we can to stop this kind of interference from happening", Sandberg said.
The committee also asked Alphabet Inc's Google to testify, but declined an offer to send Chief Legal Officer Kent Walker rather than Alphabet Chief Executive Larry Page. "Given its size and influence, I would have thought the leadership at Google would want to demonstrate how seriously it takes these challenges and to actually take a leadership role in this important public discussion". "It violated the values of our company and of the country we love", Sandberg said in her written statement, which Facebook shared with Fortune.
Still, they admitted their efforts came too late.
But Sandberg - whose boss Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress in April, ducking questions about the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal - is expected to insist that tech firms can't do everything themselves.