Twitter not based on ‘political ideology,’ CEO tells lawmakers

Donald Trump With a Phone Displaying Twitter Logo

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee to answer questions about their platform's roles in the 2016 United States presidential election and any Russian interference in the democratic process via the social networks.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey told a Congressional committee Wednesday that the social media company is exploring blockchain solutions for its platform.

Before the hearing, President Donald Trump, without offering evidence, accused the companies themselves of interfering in the upcoming US mid-term elections, telling the Daily Caller that social media firms are "super liberal". Congress has criticized social media companies during the past year as it became clear they were on the front lines during Russia's interference in the 2016 elections and beyond.

Some 43% of people think tech companies favour liberal over conservative viewpoints and 72% think it's likely that social media companies intentionally censor political viewpoints they find objectionable. "We believe strongly in being impartial, and we strive to enforce our rules impartially", Dorsey said in his prepared statement.

Dorsey and other tech titans will be in the US capital on Wednesday to testify in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is still probing Russian interference in the 2016 election, along with the general growing influence of social media to disseminate information. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence pointedly set up an empty chair to shame Google parent company Alphabet.

The start of the Senate hearing saw the sort of person the social media giants contend with in the form of Mr Alex Jones, the conspiracy theorist with a considerable following, whose radio show has recently been taken off platforms like YouTube and Facebook.

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There might also be overall uncertainty about the future of Twitter, now that Dorsey has publicly said the company is fundamentally rethinking core parts of the business.

Sandberg is scheduled to appear before the lawmakers as a representative of Facebook alongside Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey Wednesday morning.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg faces questions about foreign interference in American elections. Twitter fixed the issue in late July.

Committee chairman Sen. Richard Burr, a Republican from North Carolina, and vice chairman Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia, both expressed their "disappointment" that Google declined to send what they called an appropriately senior level official.

Sandberg said reaching China's large population would be important to Facebook's mission of connecting the world but added that "in order to go into China, we would have to be able to do so in keeping with our values, and that's not possible right now". "That's why it is incredibly important for the public to understand how precisely the companies' machine-learning algorithms shape what we see online and who we engage with online".

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