Facebook to Be Called Before Senate Panel on Russian Meddling

  • Intelligence Committee chairman plans public hearing
  • Federal probe is examining Russian political ad spending

Facebook to Go Before Senate Panel on Russia Probe

The Senate Intelligence Committee expects representatives of Facebook Inc. to testify at a public hearing examining Russia’s use of social media to influence last year’s U.S. presidential election.

The panel hasn’t yet determined all of the issues that will be covered or invited company representatives, Chairman Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican, told reporters in Washington Tuesday. He said the hearing may also include Twitter Inc. and other social media companies.

"We’re in agreement on a Facebook public hearing,” Burr said. “It’s just a question of when and potentially the scope.”

Facebook has provided special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading a federal probe of Russian election meddling, details on political ad spending from a Russian group that tried to sow discord online ahead of the election.

"I think Facebook has been less than forthcoming on potentially how they were used," Burr said.

Facebook has said it is cooperating with investigators. The company’s policy is to only provide information to the government if there is a valid court order, subpoena or search warrant.

‘Red-Hot’ Focus

Mueller is trying to determine whether there were any links between Russia’s activity and President Donald Trump’s election campaign. Facebook and other social media is a “red-hot” focus of the probe, officials have said.

Facebook has said it found about $100,000 in ad spending connected to fake accounts probably run from Russia. Facebook marketing is becoming increasingly important for election strategy, but social media ads are not legally required to provide the same transparency as ads that run on more traditional forums like television.

Twitter is scheduled to give a private briefing to the committee soon, Warner said earlier Tuesday.

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