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House Intel Committee Grills Social Media Execs on Russian Meddling

Facebook, other sites say Russian-financed front groups should have been spotted, rejected

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - The House Intelligence Committee has grilled social media executives about how Russian bots and trolls were able to flood Americans' web pages during last year's campaign.

Indiana Congressman Andre Carson (D-7th), who serves on the committee, says a campaign which bombarded more than 100 million Facebook users with targeted ads was designed to "cynically exploit...the worst kind of identity politics" to influence Americans' voting decisions. He displayed two ads traced to Russian front groups -- one, claiming to be from a group called "Being Patriotic," depicted a police funeral and blasted Black Lives Matter, while the other masqueraded as a Black Lives Matter offshoot called "Don't Shoot" and denounced police brutality. Carson says both collected more than 200-thousand followers.

Facebook, Twitter and Google told the committee they've tightened their screening process to weed out phony accounts and accounts which try to stoke violence. Facebook vice president Colin Stretch acknowledges the site failed to spot and reject ads posing as nonexistent groups, while other ads should have been rejected for violating terms of service, regardless of who bought them. And he says some posts which were in compliance point to ways those terms need to be changed.

(Photo: Carl Court/Getty Images)

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