Facebook needs to do more on foreign interference US senator says


Facebook Inc and other social media giants need to do more to counter misinformation from foreign operatives who use fake online accounts to influence elections and sow division in the US, Senator Mark Warner, a leading legislative critic of Silicon Valley, said Wednesday.

Weaponised misinformation “remains a serious unresolved national security threat,” Warner said in a speech in Washington.

Warner has criticised Facebook, Twitter Inc. and Google for what he called a lethargic response to Russian interference in US politics. Warner is the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

“I believe Facebook’s got more work to do,” Warner said. “The platform companies need to dramatically step up their game” and “commit more resources to identifying bad actors and bad practices.”

Facebook in October told Congress it was working to double to 20,000 the number of people dedicated to security issues. That’s still in the works, said Andy Stone, a company spokesman.

The social media network also is making product changes to help ensure the same problems don’t recur. For example, there’s an update that informs people about what Facebook page is linked to an ad they’re seeing, and lists all the other ads that page is running.

Warner said he’s “absolutely committed” to pursuing details of Russian interference. “Nothing the Russians did stopped in November 2016,” Warner said.

The event Warner addressed was co-sponsored by Common Sense, a San Francisco-based group that says it wants government to hold technology companies accountable for downsides of online networks, and the tech policy group Centre for Humane Technology.