tv Google Facebook Twitter Testify Before Senate Intelligence CSPAN November 1, 2017 5:28pm-6:10pm EDT
thorough fares. phillips avenue named for one of the first settlers of dakota territory. >> watch c-span cities tour saturday at 6:00 p.m. eastern on book tv. and sunday on american history tv on c-span 3. the c-span city's tour working with cable partners as we explore america. >> for a second day executives from google, facebook and twitter were on capitol hill. this time before the senate and house intelligence committees as part of the continuing inquiry into russia's social media influence on the 2016 elections. we'll have both hearings in their entirety tonight beginning at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span 2. next we bring you highlights. we start with senator dianne
feinstein's comments this morning. >> just make a personal comment because i have been very proud and i know senator harris is, as well, to represent this tech community from california. but i must say i don't think you get it i think the fact that you defend your company, that what we are talking about is a cataclysmic change. what we are talking about is the beginning of cyber warfare. what we are talking about is a major foreign power with the sophistication and ability to involve themselves in a presidential election and sow conflict and discontent all over this country. we are not going to go away, gentlemen. and this is a very big deal. i went home last night with
profound disappointment. i asked specific questions. i got vague answers. that just won't do. you have a huge problem on your hands and the united states is going to be the first of the countries to bring it to your attention and others are going to follow, i'm sure, because you bear this responsibility. you have created these platforms. and now they are being misused. and you have to be the ones to do something about it. or we will. and this committee is intelligence. it's different from yesterday. so they are privy to different facts. and they are very potent facts. let me go back to a couple of questions that i asked yesterday. yesterday you testified that
twitter only began to remove voter suppression posts that told people they could vote by texting or tweeting after you found out about them from other twitter users. these were illegal tweets waiting for users to alert twitter isn't sufficient. i will give you another chance. what is twitter doing to proactively identify illegal voter suppression tweets? >> thank you for letting me address that. we are constantly improving not only on technology around automated accounts. >> that's not enough. >> also on putting people in technology on the content and the behavior and trying to make our work flows, our reporting flows more efficient and using artificial intelligence to prioritize things like the illegal voter suppression ads and other things on the platform and taking those down faster.
we are getting better but this is a. >> that's a problem. >> we tend oo focus on behavior behind the account. we have seen great strides in other areas not related to that. we are trying to take the same solution to this problem set. >> i asked your colleague yesterday why google didn't immediately revoke russia today's preferred status after the intelligence community determined and publically stated that it was a part of the russian government's efforts to interfere in our election. i was told that rt only lost its preferred status because of a, quote, drop in viewership, not because it was part of the kremlin's propaganda machine. this response was deeply troubling and frankly did not
answer my question. so here it is again. why didn't google take any action regarding rt after the intelligence community assessment came out in january of 2017? >> let me start by responding to initial comments to ensure we take this issue very seriously. the question of cyber espionage is one we have been working on for years publically and privately working with other companies and on our own to identify some threats. this is one manifestation of that but not the only one. with regard we recognize concerns expressed and concerns about slanted coverage. this is a question that goes beyond the internet. its channel is on major television stations, advertising in newspapers, magazines, airports, hotels and pretty much
every city in the united states. we reviewed the content to see that it complies with the policies that we have against hate speech. so far we have not found violations but we continue to look beyond that we think the key to the area is transparency. if americans should have access to information for a wide variety of perspectives and should know what they are getting. we already provide information about the government funded nature. we are looking at ways to expand that to youtube and potentially other platforms. >> well, as you might guess i'm really not satisfied with that. that has sort of been the trend of the testimony all along. i think we are in a different day now. we are at the beginning of what could be cyber war. you all as a policy matter have to really take a look at that and what role you play. i think my time is almost up.
let me try one more. a british report recently concluded that social media plat forms such as facebook, twitter and youtube failed to remove extremist material posted by banned jihaddest groups even when that material was reported. the source is the british parliament's home affairs select committee. we saw a horrific attack on innocent people in new york by an individual who may have been radicalized online. we know one person who is, 75,0 hits, the major radicalizer in the united states on the internet. i'm working on legislation to require tech companies to report known terrorist activity on their platforms to law enforcement and to provide law
enforcement with civil injunction authority. so thank you, mr. chairman. mr. stretch, you commented yesterday that your company's goal is bringing people together. in this case, people were brought together to foment conflict. from a computer in russia these operators can create and promote events anywhere in the united states in an attempt to tear apart our society. i'm certain that our adversaries are learning from the russian activities and even watching us today. simply put, you must do better to protect the american people and frankly all of your users from this kind of manipulation. i have -- my time can start now. i have one simple question from each of you. i will start with mr. stretch and work left.
the federal election campaign act prohibits foreign national from spending funds in connection with any federal, state or local elections in the united states. doesn't this law prohibit your publication of the content? >> prohibit publication of the content we have seen? >> does fec law apply to facebook? >> certainly fec law yes applies -- >> prohibits foreign dollarsfluencing an election? >> prohibits foreign actors from using really any medium including facebook to influence a u.s. election. >> it applies to facebook? >> yes. >> it applies to twitter, as well. >> yes, sir. >> great. the prevalence of social media use among military member whose spend so much time deployed seems a likely target for
foreign intelligence agency whose want to collect details on movements, deployments and other sensitive insight. do you monitor your platforms for users in the u.s. military are targeted in any way? >> yes and i would say that that sort of security work really falls into the traditional cyber security work that we have long been focussed on. we have had a threat intelligence team focussed on tracking foreign actors. it is that threat that we believe has been historically been an area of focus for us on the defensive side. >> we have been focussed on that type of threat for years. we are also focussed on education on the other side and helping law enforcement and military personnel understand how to use twitter and its benefits and risks. >> mr. walker?
>> we have been looking at cyber espionage for some years. we may not have visibility as to whether individual users are veterans or not. >> these questions are for facebook. in a blog published the chief security officer wrote the company discovered about 3,000 political ads paid through pages that likely operated out of russia. facebook shut down these accounts on the grounds that they were inauthentic. had these accounts not violated facebook's prohibition against fake accounts where they had been shut down? >> senator, many of them would have because many of them violated other policies related to the type of content that is permitted on the platform
theathianticity issue is the key. referring to the content you surfaced earlier it pains us as a company, it pains me personally to see that we were, that our platform was abused in this way. people in this country care deeply about issues of public concern and one of the strengths of our country that people are so willing to speak freely about them. the fact that foreign actors were able to use our platform to exploit that openness is a deeply painful lesson for us and one we are focussed on learning from going forward. >> does it trouble you that it took this committee to get you to look at the authentic nature of the users and the content? >> senator, we are certainly troubled, i would say more than troubled, by the evidence of abuse of our platform during 2016. we are certainly grateful for the committee's investigation
and the attention you are bringing to this issue. we think it is very important. we do believe that it is a larger issue than any one company and we believe that going forward there are opportunities not just for us to do better but for us to work together to make sure we are all addressing this threat appropriately. >> what characteristics would indicate that an account or page is likely operated out of russia? >> there are a number of characteristics that can signal potential location. the most obvious one that is typically the most reliable is location information that is transmitted by the user's browser when they access facebook. it's also the most easily manipulable. there is many other signals that similarly will suggest location but because of the way the
internet is architected can also be faked. our job is to look not just for the signals that are in plain sight but understand how they can be manipulated and look for patterns of activity that reveal efforts to abuse our matt form that are shrouded both geographically and other ways. >> your vice president of twitter stated twitter is building new tools and processes to combat automated twitter accounts or bots. what is twitter's process for identifying a bot? >> we have a lot of data behind sort of the things you see on twitter that looks at the activity of an account. remember, there are hundreds of millions of accounts. activity of an account as it relates to other accounts. as we tweet our activity looks pretty normal. as an automated account tweets thousands of times an hour or logs in thousands of times a day
that looks pretty suspicious. our technology is looking for that anomaly, that differentiates normal accounts from automated accounts. but spammers and bad actors are getting better at making themselves look more real. >> what percentage of accounts on twitter are actually bots and not real people? >> so we do a monthly audit of this and investigation and determine that for years less than five percent of accounts are false accounts or spam. >> what happens to accounts on twitter that are suspended by twitter? is there an indefinite status? >> once we suspend an account they are typically terminantly banned from the platform and do work to link the accounts with new accounts that may pop up.
the more we investigate and build the web of information around the signals we are seeing from these accounts the better we get at linking the accounts and stopping them before they go on the platform. >> my time is expired. i will ask you to submit in writing for the record twitter's assessment of why independent assessments of the number of bots on twitter constantly are higher than the five percent that you have stated today. >> happy to provide that for the record and address it. >> i also want to demonstrate but we have had testimony before this committee from representative nato that fake and bot accounts on twitter are more in the 12% to 15%. vast number of research studies even if you assume ten percent you are talking 30 plus million
potential accounts that can be misused and abused. this is another example of how people are kind of lured in. first ad that is pretty benign. it is an army of jesus facebook ad. 217,000 followers. you like that page and here is what happens. you get a series of bible quotes and other items. this ad appeared in october. and suddenly this benign site suddenly were getting these other posts, not paid ads but post
posts from this organization. this message would have gone to the 217,000 followers. we have no idea how many times it was liked or shared with other individuals. we have two different examples of the types of tools. once they are lured into what they think is a pro jesus account and then they are manipulated. i hear all of your words but i have more than a little bit of frustration that many of us on this committee have been raising this issue since the beginning of this year and our claims were frankly blown off by the leadership of your companies, dismissed. said there is no possibility nothing like this happened. nothing to see here.
bothers me really committed to trying to work with us to resolve this that it took until this committee continually went at you and it was july and early august when you made your first presentations. and your first presentations were less than sufficient and showed in my mind a lack of resources, a lack of commitment and a lack of genuine effort candidly your companies know more about americans than the united states government does. and the idea that you had no idea that this was happening strains my credibility. my first question is this. i want a yes or no answer. with ilyou commit to continue to work with this committee to provide additional information and additional documents as needed as we continue to explore this challenge and threat on a going forward basis? >> yes. >> absolutely. >> absolutely.
>> next. one of the things i continue again and i will commend you here that from the friends at facebook you identified 470 accounts, 3,000 ads and most of the work has all been derivative of the initial data dump. this is a yes or no question. do you believe that any of your companies have identified the full scope of russian active measures on your platform? yes or no? >> senator, our investigation continues. so i would have to say no certainly not with certainty. >> no. we are still working on this. >> we have done a comprehensive investigation but these are ongoing issues and we continue to investigate. >> let me start again with facebook. you have identified 470 accounts from one troll farm in st.
petersburg. there have been plenty of press reports of other troll farms in russia. there have been reports of other activities that were russian controlled in central europe and eastern europe. in meetings with your leadership as you became more aware of this problem, aggressively promoted the fact that you took down 30,000 accounts around the french elections. you say not all were russian related. have you cross-checked those russian-related accounts that you took down in france to see if those were active in the american election? >> senator, the 30,000 accounts that we took down -- >> the accounts that were related to russian accounts that you took down, your leadership bragged about how proactively you were in the french election process. did you check those accounts to
see if any of them were active in the american election? >> the system that ran to take down those accounts which were fake accounts of really all type and for purpose, has -- is now active worldwide. >> have you -- just please answer my question. have you reviewed the accounts you took down in france that were russian related to see if they had -- played any role in the american election. >> i apologize. i'm trying to answer the question. >> the answer is yes or no. i don't want a long explanation. i want to know -- i've been signaling this to you for some time. we wanted to make sure you would review those accounts. we wanted to make sure the 470 accounts that paid for the 3,000 ads, you said these were all accounts except for one that were paid for in rubels. did you run those accounts to see if they were paid for with dollars or euros or other currencies. >> sir, let me -- >> we have, and we -- >> yes or no.
>> yes, we are looking and have looked at every possible indication of russian activity in the 2016 election, and the investigation continues. that includes any evidence we've identified from the 30,000 accounts as well as a number of. >> all those accounts have been run to see if any of those accounts were active in the united states. >> i will have to come back to you on that, senator. >> we've had this hearing scheduled for months. i find your answer very disappointing. on the question of -- we just discovered and i appreciate this, you had 80,000 views in terms of russian -- views on facebook. we now discovered in the last 48 hours 120,000 russian based posts on instagram. have you done any similar analysis on those 120,000 posts?
have you done the same analysis on the 120,000 posts on instagram? >> yes, we have. >> and how many americans did those touch? >> the data on instagram is not as complete. but the data we do have indicates that in october of 2016 the instagram posts reached an additional 16 million people in addition to the people we already identified. >> if i can add that the time period prior to october 16th, where our data is less reliable would reveal an incremental four million. that gets you to a little less than 150 million, sir. >> on the twitter account, there was one activity, and this was not something that happened during 2016. i agree with the chairman. we're not here to relitigate
2016 p.m. the irony was, this account had 154,000 followers. the real tennessee gop party had 13,000 followers based on your 234ubs. i find very interesting, there have been some people who said, people should be able to spot these fake accounts. if they're able to spot these fake accounts -- you had the president's communications director retweeting this acco t account. my question is, why did it take so long to take this down when the tennessee republican party was asking you repeatedly? >> yeah, and that was a mess. we have since -- >> we looked on this subject but the same way that these bots and trolls and click farms and fake pages groups can be used in politics. these same tools can and have
been used, i believe, to assist in financial frauds around stock schemes. i think there is a lot of this activity in broad based digital advertising. we've seen some of this in schemes to sell counterfeit prescription drugs. as well as the ability to encourage folks to download malwear. to get this right, we're going to need your cooperation. >> you've done a good job this morning, i'm disappointed that you're here and not your ceo's. we're talking about policies and policies of the companies, and it's fine to send general council. but i think if you can take a message back from this committee, if we go through this exercise again. we would appreciate seeing the top people who are actually making the decisions. i want to begin by two quotes.
i generally don't read quotes, these are so apt, the first one says this, nothing was more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle could be opposed to kabul intrigue. these deadly adversaries may naturally have been expected to make their approaches for more than one quarter but from the desire of foreign powers to gain an improper acen dent in our councils. >> that's alexander hamilton. the other is a more recent quote, a former gru officer. he said a new type of war has emerged in which armed warfare has given up its decisive place in the achievement of the military and political objectives of war, to another kind of warfare, information warfare and that is exactly what we're talking about here today.
i think it's. i appreciate the chair and vice chair giving us the context of what we're doing. they're visual demonstrations, i think were very vivid, and the warfare is the division of our society. and it's not only us, it's the entire west. we know the russians were involved in the french election. they're involved in the separation of spain and my understanding is they set up shop in scotland. this is a sophisticated worldwide strategy that applied here in 2016 there's one other piece i'd like to add to what the chair and vice chair did, and that is, it's still happening. this is a service of the german
martial fund that follows #s on a daily basis. i just picked a day in september to show these are the #s that are being propagated not -- they weren't created by russians, but these are 600600 websites -- these are the #s they used on these days. then we have the nfl. and then we have boycott the nfl, then we have stand for our anthem. we have make america great again. russia, take a knee. in other words, they were tweeting on both sides of the nfl dispute in order to exacerbate the divisions, one witness on this committee said their strategy is to take a crack at our society and turn it into a casm, and that's what we've seen, we saw in 2016 and
my point here is it hasn't stopped and it won't stop. there are three possibilities. one of which you can make a significant contribution to. the other two are up to us. the technical defense. the kind of thing you've already been talking about today. checking identities. i want to pursue that in a minute. the second is we as a society have to be -- we have to understand when we're being conned. i spent some time in eastern europe before our election, and the politicians wanted to talk about russian meddling in their elections, i said, how do you defend yourself. you can't undo the internet, the tv, they said, all of our people now get it, that this is what the russians are doing.
and when they see one of these postings, they say, oh, it's just the russians again. we have to develop that level of sophistication so we know when we're being misled. to me the mentality is, the same one we apply at the checkout counter at the supermarket, we see a tabloid that says a movie star had a two-headed baby. we need to apply that to these purposeful distortions, the third thing we have to determine, this country has to have some kind of cyber warfare deterrent capacity. right now, there's no price to be paid for meddling in our democracy, and our adversaries have to understand if they're going to undertake a campaign like this, there will be a price to be paid, there will be results and if they do x, we're
going to do y to them. right now, that doesn't exist. all of what the russians did last year has been a free pass. and i think that's a difficult problem. mr. stretch, can you guys -- could you put a date -- require a dateline on a mosting that said where it comes from? just like a news story says moscow september 23rd, is there some way to identify the source of information as it comes across your news feeds? >> it's a great question, we do permit users to identify the geographic location of the post. we don't require it. there are often times privacy considerations that would prevent a user from -- >> you could require it by country, couldn't you? >>. >> there are many uses of our services where requiring people
to designate their physical location would be problematic. because of the way the internet is architected. your geographic location can be disguised. that's something we need to work on in order to make sure we're not being fooled, because i think your larger point is an excellent one. the geography of the location of the user paired with the content they're serving. >> is part of the information. >> and we need to do a better job tuning our systems to be more sensitive to that. >> you said something similar, you said they being the people should know what they're getting. when we get information, we see the name of the author we need to think about how to apply some of the principles that have helped us to assess that information. i hope you all will continue to
develop policies, just as the newspaper business did a hundred years ago, that help your customers. to analyze and assess the validity of the data. we're taking what comes as it comes. i have a quote on my kitchen wall that my wife found. the great problem with quotes on the internet is determining whether they're authentic, abraham lincoln. >> i hope you hear from this committee there are lots of questions. this is not an opposition to free speech, though. this is a battle to try to protect free speech. we want to have good american dialogue. and the fear is your platforms
are being used by actors that want to affect our free speech. if an outsider wants to be able to come do it, we have a problem with that. we're grateful you're here, and to be able to walk-through this, we look forward to cooperation together to be able to figure out how we resolve some of these complicated issues. i want to push on this issue about the type of ads and type of content. >> you mentioned in your testimony that of the 131,000 tweets posted during the time, and i assume that means september to november time period that you were tracking. only 9% of those tweets from those russia targeted accounts were actually election related. the others were all social engagement issues, that's being lost in the conversation, that only 9% of the tweets were election related. now, my question is, for all of your platforms, what are you seeing from russian related
accounts that you're tracking now. and trying to be able to pull down or identify? what are the social issues being discussed right now from those sites? . i understand you can go back for the last six months if you want to, but give me some examples of the type of social issues that they're engaging with. one has already been mentioned by senator king, the nfl. has that been actively pursued on your sides. give me examples of topics here 37. >> one example we saw following the election was an effort by the accounts we've identified to inflame some of the post election demonstrations we saw. some of the accounts turned to questioning the electoral college, as an example. >> electoral college is one of
them. some of them have been reported that the site was used to try to organize events that were election protest events in certain cities, sending unite messages saying we're all going to protest at this spot. it was obviously created by a russian group. nfl? yes or no on that. >> we've seen that activity. >> what else? >> what other issues. >> we've seen more limited use of our services, but among that, i would say police shootings and racial issues. >> what else? >>. >> certainly immigration has remained a topic throughout. >> okay. >> any other issues? >> this is part of the reason that multiple members -- and senator heinrich mentioned it earlier, we want these ads to get out in the public space, we think there's great value for all of your platforms to say, this is the type of content that foreign actors are trying to put out. when we put it out it's one
thing, when you put it out, it's different. there's great benefit for you to be able to say, when you're aware of things, please note this is what's coming out, and this is what it looks like, people can say, that's the type of thing i've seen before or i liked on that before, and didn't have any idea that was russian relates. when were you aware of russian activities on your platform during the election time. during the election or before your election? when were you aware that entities within the russian government, whether that be the internet research agency or other individuals you knew of that were russian -- either government related or policy related were involved in election issues on your platform? before or after the election? >> and all three of you can say. >> before or after? >> we were aware of russian state actors active on the
platform prior to and through the election. and we communicated with law enforcement about our concerns at the time. these actors were engaged in more traditional cyber threat activity. focusing on account compromise as well as trying to direct attention to stolen information that was hosted on other sites. >> how far back? >> 2016, 2015? >> we had seen activity as early as 2015. >> we generally are aware of intelligence community reports, so became aware of the activity in the report in january of this year, and through the retrospective work have uncovered what we think is the
full extent. we're continuing to look and research that issue. >> okay. it was after the issuance of the report in january that we took a deeper dive on the things we're talking about here today. >> one of the things we're trying to address is getting information. getting the type of posts that have been done would be helpful to the american people to be able to see. getting the statistical information would also be helpful. the statistics you've given us are the number of accounts related to this, it's not giving us the breadth and the depth of those accounts once they're activated. it's helpful to know that 1% of those accounts were russian related. what we're not getting is was that 1% the first 1%? they actually created, launched it and then millions of people saw it after that. or are they in the middle stirring it, advancing it or are they beginning it, that would be
helpful to us as well. did they start it, were they in the middle -- giving us the information doesn't help us. knowing the process helps us. >> you all have done a lot of work on terrorism, on islamic extremism, on the advance of isis, child porn, human trafficking, on the sales of illegal drugs on your sites. we're asking for help on this area as well. this is something i do not hope we engage in. we look forward to cooperation on this, so you all are managing that. i do hope in the days ahead, we continue to protect a platform for free speech, to allow individuals to speak to their opinions, so americans can engage in that dialogue. thank you. >> thank you for what you're doing,nd