- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 28, 2017

Executives from Facebook, Twitter and Google’s parent company Alphabet have been invited to testify this fall before congressional investigators probing Russia’s involvement in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, amid reports suggesting Moscow meddled in the race by weaponizing social media.

The Senate Intelligence Committee has asked representatives from each of the three tech titans to testify at an open hearing on Nov. 1 involving Russia’s role in the election, a Senate aide confirmed to Reuters on Wednesday. The House Intelligence Committee plans to hold its own hearing next month “to better understand how Russia used online tools and platforms to sow discord in and influence our election,” its members said in their own statement Wednesday.

Representatives for Facebook and Google confirmed receiving the Senate panel’s invite but didn’t say whether the companies would attend, Reuters reported. Twitter did not immediately comment on the committee’s request.

The House panel’s announcement didn’t specify what tech firms will testify or when, but a committee source said congressmen expect to hear from the same three companies next month, Reuters reported.

American intelligence officials have concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized the deployment of state-sponsored hackers and propagandists tasked with interfering in last year’s White House race in a bid to disrupt Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign and sow chaos, and investigations into the matter are currently underway in the Department of Justice and both chambers of Congress.

Kremlin operatives may have also exploited social networks operated by U.S. tech companies during the course of the operation, according to recent reports.

Facebook said earlier this month that Russians spent over $100,000 on divisive advertisements shared during the 2016 election cycle, and the Senate intel panel is scheduled to hear testimony during a closed-door hearing Thursday on the use of automated accounts known as “bots” during last year’s race.

Russia has denied interfering in last year’s election.

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