Facebook, Twitter, and Google Summoned to Congressional Panel on Russian Election Interference

Hearing is scheduled for Nov. 1.

Representatives of Facebook, Twitter and Google have been asked to appear on Nov. 1 at hearings on alleged Russian interference in U.S. politics called by the U.S. Senate and House Intelligence Committees, officials said.

Facebook and Twitter have already agreed to send representatives to the Senate committee hearing, a Congressional official said.

An official knowledgeable about House committee plans declined to disclosed whether the companies have agreed to send representatives to its hearing.

Sources said that Google had not yet notified the committees that it would send representatives to the hearings, though ultimately the company was likely to do so.

Tech

Women Are Boycotting Twitter Today in Solidarity with Rose McGowan

The site suspended the actress’s account after she tweeted about the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

Women on Twitter have Rose McGowan’s back.

Female users of the site have launched a boycott of the social media platform after it briefly suspended McGowan’s account following her tweets about the alleged sexual misconduct of film producer Harvey Weinstein.

McGowan on Thursday said Twitter suspended her account after she posted tweets directed at Ben Affleck. In her messages, she told the actor to “fuck off” and accused him of lying about what he knew of Weinstein’s history of sexual misconduct.

Critics blasted the social media site for suspending McGowan’s account while allowing other users who post offensive and hateful messages to maintain their Twitter presence. The incident prompted software engineer Kelly Ellis to call for a boycott of Twitter. The day-long protest that began at midnight on Friday is intended to call attention to “women’s voices being silenced” on the social media site, according to a placard being shared by boycott participants.

More than 126,000 people used #WomenBoycottTwitter in the lead-up to the protest, with some using the hashtag to share stories of their own harassment on the site.

Actress Tara Strong posted that she’d received 34 violent death threats from a user on Twitter, but the site did not suspend his account. Twitter reportedly found that he did not violate Twitter Rules.

Actress Erin Fitzgerald tweeted that someone was impersonating her on Twitter and sending “porno messages” to her coworkers. When she reported it, she was suspended from Twitter.

Model Chrissy Teigen called on women to boycott the site because she “loves” Twitter and knows “it can be better.”

Actress Alyssa Milano tweeted that Friday would be the first day in ten years that she wouldn’t tweet, and she asked others to join her in protest.

Men also supported of the boycott, including actors Mark Ruffalo and Terry Crews. Earlier this week Crews shared his own experience with sexual harassment by a Hollywood executive.

Some suggested the boycott was foolhardy, as it would effectively silence women on the platform. Comedian Kathy Griffin responded to that argument, tweeting, “#WomenBoycottTwitter will not silence us, but @Twitter will make much less $ $ b/c of fewer clicks.”

When Fortune asked for comment on the boycott, Holger Kersting, Twitter’s communications director for EMEA, referred to a previous thread posted to the @TwitterSafety account, which said:

‘Twitter is proud to empower and support the voices on our platform, especially those that speak truth to power. We stand with the brave women and men who use Twitter to share their stories, and will work hard every day to improve our processes to protect those voices.”

“Nothing more specific to add beyond this right now,” Kersting said.

Tech

Facebook, Google, Twitter asked to testify on Russian meddling

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Executives from Facebook, Alphabet Inc’s Google and Twitter have been asked to testify to the U.S. Congress in coming weeks as lawmakers probe Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. election, committee sources said on Wednesday.

A Senate aide said executives from the three firms had been asked by the Senate Intelligence Committee to appear at a public hearing on Nov. 1.

The leaders of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee said the panel would hold an open hearing next month with representatives from unnamed technology companies in an effort to “better understand how Russia used online tools and platforms to sow discord in and influence our election.”

Representatives for Facebook and Google confirmed they had received invitations from the Senate committee but did not say whether the companies would attend. Twitter did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The House panel did not immediately identify any companies, but a committee source said lawmakers expected to hear from the same three firms the Senate had asked to testify.

The requests are the latest move by congressional investigators to gain information from internet companies as they probe the extent of Moscow’s alleged efforts to disrupt last year’s U.S. election. Lawmakers in both parties have grown increasingly concerned that social networks may have played a key role in Russia’s influence operation.

Facebook revealed this month that suspected Russian trolls purchased more than $ 100,000 worth of divisive ads on its platform during the 2016 election cycle, a revelation that has prompted calls from some Democrats for new disclosure rules for online political ads.

On Wednesday, Trump attacked Facebook in a tweet and suggested the world’s largest social network had colluded with other media outlets that opposed him. The president has been skeptical of the conclusions of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the election and has denied his campaign colluded with Moscow.

The salvo prompted a lengthy rebuke from Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, who said both Trump and liberals were upset about ideas and content on Facebook during the campaign.

“That’s what running a platform for all ideas looks like,” Zuckerberg wrote on his personal Facebook page.

Other internet firms besides Facebook are also facing rising scrutiny over how Russia may have leveraged their platforms. Twitter is expected to privately brief the Senate panel on Thursday.

Republican Senator James Lankford, who has received classified information about Russia’s interference as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on Wednesday that the country’s attempts to sow discord in U.S. domestic affairs had not abated.

Russian internet trolls over the weekend fueled the debate ignited by Trump over whether NFL players should have the right to kneel during the national anthem, Lankford said.

Also on Wednesday, the Daily Beast, citing unnamed sources, reported that a Facebook group named “United Muslims of America” was a fake account linked to the Russian government and that it was used to push false claims about U.S. politicians, including Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

The group bought Facebook ads to reach targeted audiences, promoting political rallies aimed at Muslims, the website reported.

The Senate and House intelligence committees are two of the main congressional panels probing allegations that Russia sought to interfere in the U.S. election to boost Trump’s chances at winning the White House, and possible collusion between Trump associates and Russia.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle and Dustin Volz, additional reporting by Paresh Dave; Editing by Peter Cooney and Andrew Hay

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Tech

Twitter is incorrectly guessing the gender of trans users — and they aren’t having it

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Transgender Twitter users aren’t here for the platform’s gendered assumptions. And they sure aren’t hesitating to make that known.

Here’s the deal: Twitter released a new set of tools on May 17 which allow users to see and control the data advertisers use to target ads on the social media platform. While the move was a clear effort to increase transparency and trust between users and the social media machine, the actual data Twitter has collected is giving many users pause. 

Notably, many trans and gender-nonconforming users are troubled that Twitter has been guessing the gender of users based on the gender most strongly associated with a user’s “profile and activity.”  Read more…

More about Twitter, Gender, Social Good, Transgender, and Lgbtq


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The journalist sent to Sweden by a Twitter troll reports back

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It’s been a week since independent journalist Tim Pool took up InfoWars editor-at-large and alt-right conspiracy theorist Paul Joseph Watson’s offer to come to Malmo, Sweden, to investigate violence allegedly committed by migrants and refugees in the country. 

So far, Pool has posted a clip for each day he’s been in the country. Topics have ranged from a sit-down with a business owner, chatting with Ivar Arpi about self-censorship, and one Muslim resident’s perspective on the situation.

There’s also video of Pool exploring the supposed most violent “no-go zones,” escorted by Deputy Mayor Nils Karlsson.  Read more…

More about Infowars, Journalism, Tim Pool, Sweden, and Twitter


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Report: Google is thinking about buying Twitter


Twitter has a had a few years of slow growth, but with some recent successes under its belt, it looks like there are a few bidders for an acquisition. A report by CNBC indicates that Google and Salesforce are among the top suitors looking to buy Twitter. Other ‘top tech companies’ are also looking into the purchase. Google is a particularly interesting suitor that has been rumored before; buying Twitter would give it a strong foothold to take on Facebook after the relative failure of Google+. Of course, discussing an acquisition doesn’t mean one is actually imminent (look at Apple…

This story continues at The Next Web


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