Russian Meddling: 5 Things Tech Giants Need To Tell Congress

Facebook, Twitter and Google acknowledged to U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday that Russian-linked accounts began exploiting their services in 2015 to sway last year's presidential election. Lawyers for the companies were grilled about why they didn't notice how their platforms were misused earlier, and about what they have done -- and will do -- to prevent such abuse from happening again.

Here are five things the companies need to tell Congress:

Why So Late?

The election was nearly a year ago. Why did it take so long for Facebook, Google and Twitter to see how their platforms were used by foreign actors to influence the election?

Congress would really like to know. As Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., put it: "People are buying ads on your platform with rubles. They are political ads. You put billions of data points together all the time, that's what I hear that these platforms do. They are the most sophisticated things invented by man, ever. Google has all knowledge that man has ever developed. You can't put together rubles with a political ad and go like, 'Hmmm, those data points spell out something pretty bad.'"

In hindsight, Facebook general counsel Colin Stretch acknowledged, the company should have had a "broader lens." He also noted that the company published research in April disclosing that governments and other malicious non-state actors were using its social network to influence elections -- though the company didn't directly name Russia at the time.

Was It Just Russia?

It's already illegal for Russians and other foreigners to pay for U.S. political ads. But some lawmakers suggested there was no way for tech companies to know if entities from other countries -- like China, North Korea, or, in one memorable exchange, Turkmenistan -- had also misused their platforms. After all, they didn't know about Russia's efforts for a long time,...

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