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