Roughly twelve months ago- the people were faced with making a genuine decision; selection of who will be the 2016 President of the United States of America. Since that day American’s cast their vote, many have been perplexed as to how this paramount Presidential shift occurred? Despite the debacle debates, much racial tension, taunting, slurs, and even physical attacks, the American people voted and favored Donald Trump, former reality television host and business mogul for the position over former First Lady Hillary Clinton . A year later, many are led to believe that Donald Trump had some extraterrestrial boost to help him secure the win which has resulted in a social media hearing about Russia’s infamous role in the 2016 Presidential election.
Despite Donald Trump’s political experience and etiquette, many people overlooked that when they cast their vote, and voted on the promise that he will “Make America Great Again.” Although the Trump campaign took a few pointers from the Obama campaign, it was Trump’s use of social media preferably the platform Twitter – that helped him get his promise out to the American people. Some are stunned as to his social media strategy. Reports have since surfaced speculating that Russia influenced the 2016 Presidential election, and may have assisted his campaign as early as April 2016 to inform him that they were in possession of dirt on Hillary Clinton in the form of thousands of stolen emails.
George Papadopolous, Trump Campaign foreign policy advisor plead guilty recemtly. Alluding that the Russians approached the Trump campaign involving thousands of stolen emails. It is unclear if those emails detailed any information regarding Hillary Clinton and her role as Secretary of the State Department. Records indicate she responded to the request which revealed that her State Department email account had no correspondence. Clinton was formally asked to turn over her emails from her private server with 50,000 pages of emails.
From stolen emails, to rise and spread of fake news, it’s been a constant battle to untangle the threads and pin point exactly how the Russians mounted what could be described as an independent expenditure campaign on Trumps behalf, according the the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Furthermore, an attempt to further a broader Kremlin objective: sowing discord in the US by inflaming passions on a range of divisive issues by weaving together fake accounts, pages, and communities to push politicized content and videos. Furthermore, to mobilize real Americans to sign online petitions and join rallies and protests. Wikileaks had published many documents which revealed some very vulgar language attempting to link an allege pizzagate pedophile ring conspiracy surrounding the Hillary Clinton campaign. These accusations were later deemed as fake news by main stream media although 28-year-old Edgar Maddison Welch drove from North Carolina to point a firearm in the direction of a Comet Ping Pong restaurant employee here in Washington, DC.
Artificial Intelligence Disconnect
Fast forward to Wednesday, November 1, 2017. The Intelligence Committee Hearing with Social Media took place on Capitol Hill with representatives from Facebook, Google, and Twitter. The companies were ready to answer the pressing Congressional questions about the full extent of Russian use of social media. Why it took them so long to discover this abuse of their platforms, and what they intend to do about it to protect our country from this malignant influence in the future?
Beginning the hearing with prayer, possibly was the perfect way to start for the social media companies and the Committee. All of America’s social media technology giants had an opportunity to clear their minds- and get ready for sworn testimony in this unclassified matter of discussion. Bearing in mind during the hearing that free speech is guarded by our Constitution, many of the social media companies did not want to infringe upon their users rights. All three companies acknowledged they understood the magnitude of the events which have unfolded, an on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest level of understanding.
Sean J. Edgett, acting General Counsel for Twitter acknowledged and stated during his oral testimony “Today, we intend to show the Committee how serious we are to addressing this new threat by explaining the work we are doing to understand what happened, and ensure that it does not happen again.” He expressed how any activity in unacceptable and that take the responsibility, currently detect more than 4 million malicious account a day. Twitter has created a dedicated teams within the company to enhance the quality of information their users see and block malicious activity whenever and wherever they find it. The company continues to aim at being safe, open, transparent, and positive platform.
Moving right along with the oral testimonies to accompany the written testimony, Mr. Colin Stretch, General Counsel for Facebook stated “at Facebook our mission is to create technology that gives people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.” Mr. Stretch also expressed that people expect authentic experiences to share and to connect. Facebook acknowledge that fake ad accounts violated policy and were removed. They plan on making a significant investment by hiring more ad reviewers, doubling or more on their security engineering efforts. Putting in place tighter ad content restrictions, launching new tools to improve ad transparency and requiring documentation from political ad buyers. Facebook plans to expand efforts to work with law enforcement and are building more AI to help locate ban content and locate bad actors. Hopefully Facebook will add a face lift to their leadership and bring more than 2.3% of African American employees on board.
After Twitter and Facebook gave oral statements, Google didn’t decline their opportunity, and Mr. Kent Walker, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Google stated “Google believes it has the responsibility to prevent misuse of their platforms and take responsibility very seriously,” and recognized the importance of the Committees mandate. Google has agreed to safeguard against these attacks in the future with building industry leading security systems, and recently they launched their safe browser system. The are aware of attempted attacks to manipulate their systems, and have since secured a spam and security measure on its YouTube platform ensuring that no view counts or number of subscribers are inflated. Google now uses fact check to help users spot fake news on Google News.
Now that the social media companies acknowledge their wrong in the role Russians played on their platforms, hopefully they will implement policy and procedures to ensure that these fake ad accounts are not created.
Update: A day after the #TechHearing a Twitter employee is fired for deactivating the account of President Donald Trump.