Facebook, Google and Twitter grilled by Congress over Russian meddling – as it happened

The tech giants went before Senate judiciary committee to explain how and why Russian operatives were given free rein to tamper with 2016 US election

i: Stretch, Edgett, Salgado. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

We’re going to wrap up our coverage of a senate panel questioning representatives of Facebook, Google and Twitter.

Here’s what we learned:

  • The questioning was cordial with a few moments of contention.The companies said they took the problem of Russia using their platforms to tamper in the US election seriously and vowed new safeguards.
  • There was total agreement that Russia specifically had undertaken a broad campaign to meddle in the election on social media platforms.
  • The companies projected competent management of the problem. They were reluctant to acknowledge their inability to identify imposter accounts run by foreign actors and to identify ad buyers.
  • “Of course the answer is no,” said Facebook’s Colin Stretch about identifying all politics ad buyers and discerning foreign agents.
  • Challenged about the universe of information about its users that Facebook has access to, Stretch insisted under oath that Facebook had limited access to user information.
  • Both Google and Facebook’s representatives blamed algorithms for certain undesirable activity on their networks including premium ad buys and the creation of offensive ad targeting on Facebook.