United States to probe social media giants Facebook, Twitter on 'stifling' free speech

But no executive from Alphabet Inc's Google is expected to testify, after the company declined the Senate Intelligence Committee's request to send one of its most senior executives, frustrating lawmakers. "In particular, law enforcement should not threaten social media companies with unfounded investigations". "Abuse, harassment, troll armies, propaganda through bots and human coordination, disinformation campaigns and divisive filter bubbles - that's not a healthy public square".

Senior company executives appeared before the Senate intelligence committee in Washington to address fears of misinformation campaigns being conducted in the United States midterm elections in November. While all three tech companies have been accused of political bias against conservatives, the more public-facing nature of Twitter has made it an especially easy target.

Ms Sandberg admitted Facebook had been too slow to respond to manipulative messaging from Russian Federation during the 2016 election season, but had sharply raised its response and was more pro-active now.

Republicans have been amping up their criticism of social media in recent months, claiming these platforms stifle conservative voices.

Sandberg said that Facebook was "too slow to spot" Russia's purported influence operation and "too slow to act".

Facebook, Twitter and other technology firms have been on the defensive for many months over political influence activity on their sites as well as concerns over user privacy.

Playwright Neil Simon dies aged 91
His wife, Elaine Joyce Simon , was at his bedside when he died, along with Simon's daughters, Ellen and Nancy. Simon was mostly raised by his mom and was mentored by his older brother Danny.

Twitter's Dorsey was to follow his Senate testimony with an appearance at an afternoon hearing looking at that issue in the House of Representatives.

Politico reported Tuesday Twitter said not even President Trump is immune from being kicked off the platform if his tweets cross a line with abusive behavior.

"Each of you have come a long way with respect to recognizing the threat", Senator Mark Warner, the committee's top-ranking Democrat, said. Dorsey said that action was a mistake, which was corrected, and prompted an apology from Twitter. The company's Chief Legal Officer Kent Walker sent a written statement, promising to maintain efforts to thwart foreign interference in USA elections.

The companies have conveyed to the commission that all sponsored content in favour of a political party, political leader or candidate will flag the concerned sponsor and the amount paid for posting the content on Facebook, WhatsApp (owned by Facebook), Google or Twitter.

But Mr Joe Barton, a Republican from Texas, told Mr Dorsey: "We wouldn't be having this discussion if there wasn't a general agreement that your company had discriminated against conservatives".

Twitter isn't biased for or against any type of partisan but is working on ways to raise the level of debate on its platform, the company's CEO will tell a Senate hearing in Washington, D.C., today.

  • Delia Davidson