In the first of three Senate judiciary subcommittees investigating Russian meddling in the 2017 U.S. Presidential Election, there were no shortage of hard questions for tech giant representatives (Facebook, Twitter, Google).
10 months on since the inauguration of Donald Trump and the prevalance of disinformation — yes, the much heralded rise of ‘fake news’ coined, ironically, by Trump himself — circulating social media networks remains a concerning trend. The power to influence election outcomes (Facebook in particular has been singled out on this issue) has become a central theme of the Senate investigations.
Significantly, why did Facebook accept political advertisements paid for in Russian roubles. In the video clip Senator Al Franken put Facebook’s Chief Legal Counsel Colin Stretch on the hot seat for Facebook’s seeming inability to connect 2 rather obvious (and highly suspicious) data points:
Franken: “How did Facebook, which prides itself on being able to process billions of data points and instantly transform them into personal connections for its users, somehow not make the connection that electoral ads paid for in roubles were coming from Russia? Those are two data points! American political ads and Russian money: roubles. How could you not connect those two dots?”
“People are buying ads on your platform with roubles. They’re political ads. You put billions of data points together all the time. That’s what I hear that these platforms do: they’re the most sophisticated things invented by man, ever. Google has all knowledge that man has ever developed. You can’t put together roubles with a political ad and go hmm, those two data points spell out something bad?”