U.S. Congress grills Facebook, Twitter over foreign bids to tilt politics

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey reportedly stepped in to save Alex Jones Richard Spencer from bans

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey reportedly overruled his staff's decision to ban Alex Jones

Sandberg is scheduled to appear before the lawmakers as a representative of Facebook alongside Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey Wednesday morning. The company sought to send its senior vice-president for global affairs, Kent Walker, but was rebuffed.

Google, which declined to send its CEO, Sundar Pichai, or co-founder and Alphabet CEO, Larry Page, was notably absent, an empty chair and nameplate providing a constant visual reminder of the snub. Follow the live blog below.

Facebook and Twitter executives are defending their companies in two congressional hearings, arguing they are aggressively trying to root out foreign actors who want to do the United States harm just weeks before the midterm elections. "The actions we've taken in response - beginning with the steps Facebook's General Counsel, Colin Stretch, outlined to this Committee previous year - show our determination to do everything we can to stop this kind of interference from happening". Sandberg also added that Facebook employs 20,000 security and safety personnel who work 24 hours a day.

Over the past year, Facebook and Twitter have each launched public campaigns (and some not so public) to fight back against "inauthentic" accounts believed to be linked not only to Russian Federation, but to other malicious actors like Iran. And Facebook's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, ran the gauntlet of the House and Senate in April, following the revelations of the Cambridge Analytica data harvesting operation. "We are learning from what happened, and we are improving".

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Dorsey will then participate in a second hearing Wednesday afternoon before the House Energy & Commerce Committee, where he is set to discuss the algorithms Twitter uses to serve content on users' Twitter feeds and "content monitoring".

Dorsey's comments come days after President Donald Trump accused technology firms of "censorship" and suppressing conservative voices.

"We believe strongly in being impartial, and we strive to enforce our rules impartially", Dorsey will tell lawmakers Wednesday, according to a copy of his prepared remarks released in advance.

Laura Rosenberger, the Director of the Alliance for Securing Democracy at the German Marshall Fund, told ABC News that likely won't be a problem for the Senate Intelligence Committee, as that committee in particular has been "steeped in understanding the challenges posed by foreign interference".

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