UK lawmakers press social media giants over Russian influence

British lawmakers grilled Silicon Valley social media giants over the presence of “fake news” and Russian influence on their platforms in Washington (DC).  The British parliament members asked Twitter, Facebook and YouTube representatives pointed questions during a special US hearing over how hoax content disseminated from their websites may have swayed the 2016 British "Brexit" referendum on leaving the European Union.   The tech representatives downplayed those concerns, citing internal data they said found that accounts linked to Russians did not heavily use their platforms in the same way that they did around the time of the U.S. elections.

Nick Pickles, Twitter’s UK senior public policy manager, told the panel that the company had only found 49 accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency, a Russian "troll farm," that were active during the Brexit referendum. These accounts tweeted 942 times, and these tweets received a cumulative 461 retweets and 637 likes. Pickles stressed that the numbers represented the IRA’s limited engagement and reach on its platform around the time of the Brexit vote, but did not provide deeper analytics. “We are not the arbiters of truth,” said Pickles. “We are not going to remove content based on the fact this is untrue. The one strength that Twitter has is it's a hive of journalists, of citizens, of activists correcting the record, correcting information.”

UK lawmakers press social media giants over Russian influence Twitter executive on fake news: ‘We are not the arbiters of truth’ (Washington Post) Members of the U.K. Parliament grill American tech giants over the spread of fake news.