Facebook, Twitter to Provide Data on Energy Market Manipulation

  • Congressional panel examining whether Russian ads moved market
  • Lawmakers examine advertisements opposing fossil fuels

Social media posts on display during a House Intelligence Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 1, 2017. 

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc. and Google parent Alphabet Inc. agreed to turn over information to Congress on Russian entities purchasing ads that may have been used to manipulate U.S. energy markets, according to the chairman of the House Science Committee.

Officials at the technology companies said in telephone conversations they will forward the material "soon," Republican Lamar Smith of Texas, chairman of the Committee on Science, Space and Technology, said Thursday.

Smith sent letters on Sept. 27 to chief executive officers of the companies. He wrote that the committee was seeking information “regarding Russian entities purchasing anti-fracking or any anti-fossil fuel advertisements or promotions.”

He also asked for documents and communications on “any Russian based or foreign funded entity involvement in the U.S. energy market detected on your social media platform" and information on the source of ads “advocating for so-called green initiatives.”

Congressional investigators began to examine the possibility that Russia sought to influence energy markets as an outgrowth of probes into efforts by the country to influence last year’s presidential election. Russia is a major oil producer and declining prices partly resulting from increased U.S. production and from greater use of renewable energy has slowed its economy.

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