issie lapowsky Profile picture
Nov 1, 2017 44 tweets 5 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Both FB and Twitter say they saw no evidence of Russian accounts uploading voter data to target specific lists.
By now, given Russian posts senators have shared, it's clear what the their motive was: to pit the American electorate against itself.
Heinrich says the committee is divided on whether to release all the Russian content. He encourages FB, Twitter, and Google to consider it.
Silly question by Heinrich: "Do you require at Twitter by service agreement that profiles are linked to real names real people?" Answer: No
Blunt is wasting his time. He is asking questions that have been thoroughly reported for months now.
Stretch says Clinton & Trump spent $81 m before the election. Blunt wants to show how small the Russians' $100k in ads are by comparison.
Again, this ignores the reach of organic content and stories that get picked up in US media
Sen. King: "The warfare is the division of a society." Yes, yes, yes. Focus needs to shift from which candidate Russia supported.
This committee has its eyes on the prize. Filter bubbles are as much a part of the problem as lack of transparency in political ads.
King uses data from #Hamilton68 to show how Russian Twitter bots took both sides of the NFL kneeling debate to incite anger on both sides
"Their strategy is to take a crack in our society and turn it into a chasm. It hasn't stopped and it wont stop." - Sen. King
King asks if FB posts could come with a location flag. Stretch is right that that would pose serious privacy issues for lots of users.
Really smart start by Lankford: "This is not an opposition of free speech battle. This is actually a battle to try to protect free speech"
"If two Americans have a disagreement let’s have at it," Lankford says. If foreign actor wants to manipulate those convos, that's different
Lankford says "We really do want these ads to get in a public space." This hearing makes a great case for it.
did...Manchin just say...RT uses "Googles"?
On the Honest Ads Act, Twitter says it's "very supportive" but has some fine-tuning.
Facebook says "We stand ready to work with the committee on legislation." Stretch has repeatedly declined to say yes or no to Honest Ads Act
Sen. Cotton says that "Twitter was on the side of Russia" because it was actively selling ads to RT and Sputnik
Cotton pressed Twitter on why it lets Wikileaks operate freely despite apparent coordination with Russia
Harris wants to know how much ad revenue they got from legitimate ads that ran alongside Russian propaganda. But that's complicated...
Facbeook ads aren't like newspaper ads. A legitimate advertiser doesn't pay to advertise on, say, one of the Russian fake pages.
What they could do is see if any legitimate advertisers paid to target followers of Russian accounts. All 3 say they haven't looked into it.
Cornyn: "The public needs to understand how your platforms operate." So do some members of Congress.
Sen. Reed is the last man standing. He asks if FB will notify 126 m people who saw Russian content.
Stretch says FB's obligation is to investigate the threat, work with government and share threat info with the industry. But not the public.
There's a group waiting outside the hearing trying to deliver 80k signatures to FB exec asking them to notify people who were affected
One idea that keeps coming up: that tech should be treated the same as TV or print. But it is so, so, so much more powerful than either.
TV and print are one-way communication channels. Social media is inherently social!
After a substantive morning w/Senate Intel Com. it's amateur hour at the House hearing. "What's the difference between a bot and a troll?" 😑
Twitter GC says it is 2x as good at shutting down bots now, bc it shut down 2 m last year & 4 m this year.Couldn't that just mean more bots?
"We don't want to put ourselves in the position of being the arbiter of truth." - FB's Stretch. "Arbiter of truth" is the term of the year.
Rep. Sewell brings in FB's weak diversity #s. "I should trust your vetters vetting this kind of information would be a diverse workforce?"
Stretch says FB isn't hiring 1,000 people with security clearance. More like "single digits, potentially in the teens."
Rep. Castro asks if Twitter will share DMs from Russian bots. Edgett: "DMs are the private communications of our users." So, maybe not.
Stretch says much the same for FB: "The question of private messages does implicate separate and perhaps thorny issues."
Castro says he and others want to see them.
Rep. Hurd, a former CIA agent, calls IRA's work online the "greatest covert action campaign in the history of Russia."
Rep. Speier asks if Trump campaign shared any Russian content or if Russians shared any Trump campaign content.
That's different than whether they targeted the same ppl. All 3 duck the Q. Stretch says, "We provided all relevant info to the committee."
Rep. Gowdy: "Is it constitutionally protected to utter an intentionally false statement?" Stretch: "In most cases, it's protected."
But FB and all of these companies are private entities that can and do make their own rules around what people can and can't say.
Rep. Quigley: "We are the elected leaders of the country and the leaders of the social media platforms should be here, too."
Speier mentions Trump's team crediting FB for help w/ win. Quote below is from @parscale to me 1 week after election…

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More from @issielapowsky

May 12, 2018
NEW: The House Democrats' trove of Russia-linked Facebook ads contained ads targeting suspicious Chrome extensions at teenage girls. The extensions gained wide access to users' browsing behavior and Facebook accounts. h/t @d1gi for spotting…
The landing page for the ads where users could install the extension was registered in April 2016 in St. Petersburg, Russia. The ads went live in May. By June, people were already complaining about how the extension had spammed all their Facebook friends…
Google confirmed it had removed the extension from the Chrome store and from users' devices. Unclear how many people downloaded the extension from the Facebook ads. The ads only got a little over 80 clicks.…
Read 4 tweets
Apr 16, 2018
A researcher with lots of foresight scraped 5 million political ads on Facebook during 6 weeks before the 2016 election. She found that half of the advertisers had absolutely no federal records or online footprint. Of that half, 1 in 6 were Russian trolls.…
These "suspicious" advertisers predominantly targeted voters in swing states like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. She also found that white voters received 87 percent of all immigration ads.…
She found that the advertisers that were not required to file any disclaimers or disclosures with the FEC ran 4 times as many of these divisive ads as advertisers that did have to file with the FEC:…
Read 5 tweets
Apr 4, 2018
Facebook call with Mark Zuckerberg is starting now. They say it'll be 45 minutes (!).
“We're an idealistic and optimistic company and for the first decade we really focused on all the good connecting people brings” - Zuck

But in the past, "We didn't take a broad enough view of what our responsibility is...It was my mistake."
"Yesterday we took a big action by taking down Russian IRA pages targeting their home country." - Zuck
Read 16 tweets
Jan 4, 2018
Funny you should mention. I just happen to have written a little something about how researchers are developing algorithms that give the courts hard proof of voter ID laws' racially discriminatory impact.…
The most promising among them can accurately match people in the voter roll to voter ID databases with the same accuracy as a Social Security Number.…
This means courts now have something more accurate than a survey to show who does and does not have adequate identification once and for all. Surprise: black registered voters are far less likely to exist in those ID databases.…
Read 4 tweets

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