Social media goes to Washington to get trolled

The social media mavens will come to Washington Tuesday to meet with lawmakers. It’s the antithesis of a smiley emoji.Of course none of the CEOs of these companies will be answering questions in front of the Senate judiciary subcommittee on crime and terrorism for their company’s involvement with Russian firms that used their platforms to sway public opinion.

No Facebook, YouTube and Twitter will be sending their general counsels to speak of their involvement with propaganda leading up to the 2016 presidential election.

“Many of the ads and posts we’ve seen so far are deeply disturbing—seemingly intended to amplify societal divisions and pit groups of people against each other,” Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch said in a prepared statement to the subcommittee.

“They would be controversial even if they came from authentic accounts in the United States. But coming from foreign actors using fake accounts they are simply unacceptable,” Stretch added.

Facebook estimates that the Russian-back posts on its site reached an estimated 126 million users over the course of the year leading to the election. That’s could be a tremendous amount of ad revenue — based on impressions — that Facebook received as a result of the Russian posts.

But I’m sure that will not be the main focus of this hearing, since none of the companies have a defense for that.

The hearing comes as these companies ramp up lobbying spending into the tens of millions of dollars — a conservative estimate — to fight Washington regulating their platforms during election time.

So let’s get on with the two-day grandstanding by the pols and the acts of contrition by the lawyers, since no real change will come about for the platforms. The change will be left to the social media users, who will be obligated to self-censor or be banished from the platform.

Apologies for no post yesterday. Family matters came up.


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