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tv   The Communicators FB Google Twitter hearings  CSPAN  November 4, 2017 6:28pm-7:02pm EDT

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washington journal at 7:00 eastern sunday morning. join the discussion. here on c-span, the communicators is next. with a look at russia's use of political ads on social media during the 2016 election. that is followed by democratic national committee chair tom perez talking about the future of the party and recent developments in the russia investigation, being led by robert mueller. later, former president bill clinton and elijah cummings discuss ways to discuss opioid addiction in the u.s. c-span, where history unfolds daily. in 1979, c-span was created as a public service by america's cable television companies, and is brought to you today by your cable or satellite provider.
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>> this week on capitol hill, both the house and senate intelligence committees, along with the senate judiciary committee, held hearings on the tech companies, election 2016, and russia. here to help us dissect these hearings are two reporters, david mccabe with axios, ashley gold with politico. ashley gold, what did you learn from these three hearings? ms. gold: we learned tech has a long way to go in explaining what happened on their platforms during the 2016 presidential election, as far as to purchase ads, when they bought them, how much money they spend on them, and how many americans saw those advertisements and were affected by them, and may have changed their decision about who they would vote for, based on them. we learned a few new numbers out of facebook. 146 million users of facebook which facebook owns, thought content to the canes out of these -- came out
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of these it russia-linked ads. lawmakers had some tough questions for the general counsel of these companies, which had to sit through a rough two days of grilling from lawmakers. host: you said we did not learn a lot about specific things. we basically do not know yet what happened, duly? ms. gold: we have an idea what happened. we know of a number of ads that were purchased, there could be more. we know of fake accounts the purchased ads on twitter, and we know about action on google. what we do not know is if there was collusion between the trump campaign in coordination with buying these ads on social media. we do not know if it sway the thetion, -- swayed election. host: david mccabe, what have you learned? we picked up on
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wider ranging concerns lawmakers breadtht the breath -- of these companies. john kennedy, senator from louisiana, not active on tech issues, but data privacy. has a hugeta privacy bearing on this russia investigation. it is worrying him. a lot of americans worry about it, when you look at polling data. while russia was the focus, the urgent matter, there is a broader set of concerns that may ing distrust with text platforms. host: where these companies surprised at the amount of animosity? mr. mccabe: by the time they got there, they probably were not. these are experienced lawyers for the company. they brought their top aides with them. but it is clear they have been caught off guard by this russia issue.
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they took a lot of heat from lawmakers. mark warner, the top democrat on the senate intelligence committee, came out and said, we came to earlier this year. you brushed us off. you frankly, blue us off. off.s -- blew us why did you not get to this earlier? and the ceos, another big concern. host: the home state of these companies is represented by senator dianne feinstein, on the intelligence committee. here is what she had to say. senator feinstein: i have been proud, and i know senator harris is, as well, to represent the tech community from california. but i must say, i do not think you get it. the fact that your general counsels, you defend your company, what we talking about is a cataclysmic change.
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what we are talking about is the beginning of cyber warfare. what we are talking about is a major foreign power with the tohistication and ability involve themselves in a presidential election, and sow conflict and discontent all over this country. we are not going to go away, gentlemen. this is a very big deal. i went home last night with profound disappointment. i asked specific questions, i got vague answers. and that just won't do. you have a huge problem on your hands. the united states is going to be the first of the countries to bring it to your attention. and others are going to follow, i am sure. because you bear this responsibility. you have created these platforms. and now they are being misused.
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and you have to be the ones to do something about it. or we will. host: ashley gold, a strong statement from the hometown senator. ms. gold: definitely. it is of large source of pride that these companies that have made hundreds of millions of dollars and have influence all over the world, so many users that rely on them, senators are proud these companies are from california, and they have enjoyed a good working relationship with them for a number of years. many of these tech companies donate to campaigns, particularly to the democrats. some of these democrats are coming to the reckoning that they will maybe have to regulate their friends. google and facebook and twitter have gotten off scot-free in washington for years and years and not dealt with real regulation. this is the moment they are coming to heel.
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well a great source of positivity and usefulness to the world, it is not all good. mr. mccabe: absolutely. that gets us to the next question, where do they go from here? i think a lot of people do not know. their ideas for what lawmakers can do in the concrete way. there are add disclosures -- ad disclosures. and sex trafficking. no one knows exactly where this goes in concrete terms. but that almost does not matter. this is about how we talk about these companies. many policy debates have been predicated on silicon valley's golden halo in washington. what happens when that goes away? at the end of senator feinstein's statement she issued a threat -- "or we will" take care of this for you.
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mr. mccabe: that gets to the fact that lawmakers get fed up when they feel companies are not responding. when they feel there is not an attempt to fill in the gap. which is why you see companies attempting self-regulation. the question is, is it too late? announced these changes, more transparency around election ads. but they did it right before this hearing. it was a clear attempt to get out ahead. for some lawmakers, that may not be enough, especially those with the honest ad bill. ms. gold: it is too little too late. the damage has been done. our election was messed with. there is nothing that can be done now. senator al franken was especially angry yesterday, asking tech companies, general counsels, if they were aware foreign money was not allowed to go to elections.
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yes or no, did you know that? would -- not all of them could say yes. practices are ad automated and they do not have people reviewing. sometimes when someone buys something with foreign currency, they do not know that. ashley gold, dianne, al franken, both democrat. democrats and tech companies have traditionally been on the same side. ms. gold: they have, on lockstep. these companies donated a lot to democratic campaigns. on social issues, you almost always see them on the side of the liberals, whether standing up for immigration, lgbt writes, .- rights as these tech companies grow and get huge in their market share, and their monopoly is massive, democrats are concerned about
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antitrust. they're concerned these companies are too big and cannot control themselves anymore. it is a change in the longtime relationship that is been very positive. host: senator richard burr, let show a little of what he had to say. this subject is complicated, all whole new vocabulary. impressions are different than views. views are different than clicks. there is one thing i am certain of -- given the complexity of what we have seen, if anyone tells you they have this all figured out, they are kidding themselves. we cannot afford to kid ourselves about what happened last year, and continues to happen today. that complexity is why we rely on you for expert insight and reliable information. 60% of the u.s. population uses facebook.
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a foreign power using that platform to influence how americans feel and see each other, is a national security concern. crafting an elegant policy solution that is effective but demandsly burdensome partnership between companies and this committee. just recently on the basis of a more complete investigative estimate the original that 10 million americans were exposed to russian origin content on facebook was increased to 126 million. that tells me our companies are coming to grip with the scale and depth of the problem. host: what is the learning curve for the senate on this issue? mr. mccabe: it is very high. we heard this again and again. a lawmaker asked what is the difference between a bot and a troll?
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an automated accounts, and some of the causes chaos on forums. a steep learning curve when it comes to the complexities of the digital ad market. thatve this whole system is powered a lot of growth in the american economy. yet most people party to it as users are regulators do not understand. if forces lawmakers to rely a bit on what the company says. but it will not stop them from pushing the companies on these issues. questions andave specificities, they will keep pushing. they will not just back down because they do not understand. host: david mccabe, i want to go back to something you -- they referenced, the size and power of these companies. the new york times has been writing about the collective power of the big five, and their control over how we communicate today.
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is that going to be an issue that congress addresses? mr. mccabe: we will see. they wrote eloquently about this and the difficulty in regulating these companies in a big way. they'resee is, concerned about the size and reach of these companies on different tracks. there is a big abstract question of, antitrust and market power. a very philosophical question. in more concrete things like, how do you regulate political ads? we regulate them on television, so we know how to do that. to assume there will be wholesale regulation of these companies, that is probably not where this heads right now. the same is to of the big questions like antitrust. ourhe smaller issues, reporting suggests there is momentum for these regulatory solutions.
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but it is a question of what breaks around what issue. ms. gold: i agree, there is momentum around the honest ads act. the most concrete thing we have seen coming out of the social media russian meddling thing. was introduced this bill because they had a republican on board. it shows they want to frame this as a national security issue. this is an issue that affects our democracy and something they think everyone can come together on. everyone wants our elections to have integrity. if they rally support, we can see that going somewhere. people werese getting into yesterday, some republicans were throwing cold water on the idea that social media meddling in the election for trump, they say it affected the whole election, you cannot say it made trump when. some ofmarco rubio said
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these trolls impacted his own campaign, meant to hurt him and chaos in his campaign, so there is a partisan divide. host: did any of you see these ads during the campaign? ms. gold: i do not know. that is the thing, they look so similar to regular ads, it is possible you saw one and thought with -- and thought it was real. it depends if you are in groups targeted in certain states, having liked certain things on facebook already. that is how they were able to target people. none of mr. mccabe: them stuck out. scalent to remember the these ads were released into. they produced roughly 2 billion global users. you get to the fact, there are some things you may be will not see, even if they are pervasive. ms. gold: the newsfeed is
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curated so you see things you already like and your friends already like. a you were already in facebook circle where people were liking these pages, you are more likely to see these pages. if you are in a totally different world, your newsfeed would look totally different. about 146 they talk million people exposed to these ads, does that mean it shows up in your newsfeed, or that you literally clicked on it? actually read it? ms. gold: the content that came out of these ads, it was not as advertisements. you could click on an advertisement and be linked to an event or a post or news article, referred to as organic content, separate from an ad. that is what many people ended up seeing. mr. mccabe: the premise is that you can build an audience for
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your page with a relatively small amount of money. you have a higher return on your investment. it was all about feeding into this organic content. soul representative terry of alabama on the house intelligence committee had something to say about this as well. how diverse are these bettors -- vetters? if you look your organic postings, turns out to be a fake facebook age, then by one of those troll farms. that is trying to incite racial animosity. my point is this, sir. with all due respect, i know you all are good corporate citizens and continue yourself -- consider yourselves to be such. but it is paramount to our security that we have more transparency and accountability on all of your platforms. i know i am talking to facebook,
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but i am broadly talking to everyone. i want to know what you see is your responsibility to make sure you are actually vetting the content. you are walking a fine line because of free speech, and that is a paramount foundation of our democracy. who are your vetters, and are they a diverse group of people? vetters, theour people who work on that review, they are around the globe. we have a number of regions and linkages recover, so we have people around the globe. we are committed to building a workforce that is as diverse as the computer any we serve. sen. sewell: i have to stop you there. i am a member of the congressional black caucus. last week, several of my colleagues went to facebook to
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meet with your executives to talk about your diversity initiative. know if you know exactly how many racially diverse workforce you have -- what the percentages. but i can tell you, if you do not know. it is very low. host: ashley gold? the fact that we do not know who these content reviewers are, i am not even sure what point in the ad process they look at these ads. is it after they are purchased, before? then she talked about the general racial makeup of the people that worked at facebook. akey have received a lot of fl about not being diverse at all. they went to silicon valley to speak to them about their times that diversity initiatives. they had been there two years ago as well. in the past two years we would've hoped they made progress in adding diversity to their workforce and their board. lawmakers came
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back very unhappy with what they saw. the companies had made no progress at all. a huge lack of diversity, lack of black board members. the companies were apologizing, scrambling. we had sheryl sandberg, she met with the congressional black caucus and said facebook would pledge to add a black board member. there is a lot of frustration that these companies are not employing people that look like the makeup of america. mr. mccabe: this question of who is reviewing the content when it goes to a human being rather than an algorithm is important. week, there was a poll with surveymonkey that found a majority of people with preferred these ads be vetted through human review rather than algorithmic. but human review is expensive.
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theyook reported earlier are going to apply human review to more types of controversial ads. but it is an expensive proposition to review every ad by hand. that question will keep coming back -- who is doing the reviewing, and where? host: i think i read they would have up to 20,000 reviewers at facebook alone? ms. gold: mr. stretch said they would add more content reviewers. not sure when that is going to happen. it is another move they are doing as they get flak from the hill. is this something that would've happened had they not gotten in trouble and had to testify? we're not sure. facebookore we leave and talk about google and twitter, let's hear from senator john kennedy, republican from louisiana. sen. kennedy: how many
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advertisers does facebook have? mr. stretch: we have approximately 5 million advertisers on a monthly basis. did china run ads in the last election cycle that tried to impact our election? mr. stretch: not that i am aware of, senator. sen. kennedy: not that you are aware of. did turkmenistan? mr. stretch: no, senator, not that i am aware of. sen. kennedy: how about north korea? i am not aware of other foreign actors. sen. kennedy: how can you be aware? advertisers,llion and you are going to tell me that you are able to trace the origin of all of those advertisers? if i want to hire a lawyer, if i wanted to hire you when you were
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in private practice, an incredible resume, let's go four or five shell corporations because i want to hide my identity. are you telling me you have the to trace through all of these corporations and find the true identity of every one of your advertisers? you are not telling me that, are you? mr. stretch: senator, the commitment we are making -- sen. kennedy: i am just asking about your ability, your commitment. can you do it today? mr. stretch: we are not able to see beyond the activity we see on the platform. host: david mccabe, what was senator kennedy's goal in that line of questioning? mr. mccabe: i think we saw several lawmakers try and draw the point out that these platforms, particularly facebook, are so large, that i might be really hard for them to meet the obligations they are
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promising. we saw disbelief on this front of, how could people attract to tracktuff -- could people this stuff? how could you not see this, al franken said. how could you not know that it was paid for in rubles, that that was a problem? the company's response was to say, it is complicated. we have not found evidence of foreign actors, but this investigation is ongoing. more issues may surface. foreign currency is one signal of bad ads. but it is not a perfect signal. those technical complications i think were not satisfying to a lot of lawmakers. host: ashley gold, you're nodding your head. ms. gold: like david was saying,
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senator kennedy was expressing his disbelief. there is no way you can trace every ad, while senator franken thinks there must be a way. the truth is somewhere in the middle. knows of atne he this time, that is because facebook is not gone looking for the north korean or chinese ads. who knows what they would uncover if they were specifically looking for that. in this instance, they knew to look for russian ads after the fact. they only can see the activity going on on the platform. it might be hard to see who is buying those ads. host: we only have three or four minutes but we have not mentioned yet the trump campaign. these hearings of gone beyond that, it does not seem that was the focus this week. all the witnesses were asked in the house hearing, did you find an overlap in the targeting use by the trump campaign's legitimate ads and these russian ads?
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stretch said, no, we have not. sheryl sandberg do not have an answer for that. no, we have not seen that yet. that gets back to the issue of collusion. we do not see as much conversation about the relationship with the trim campaign. we have not talked about twitter or google, either. host: did you want to add anything? ms. gold: the general theme was, these people messed with our election, they wanted to confuse and divide people. it did not have to do with the trump campaign was responsible or anything like that. host: twitter and google were also there. what was their role and what was the questioning of those two companies? ms. gold: twitter recognized
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they found-- accounts linked to the purchased advertisements on that platform. also, twitter has had a strong working relationship with russia today, rt, throughout the campaign, with ads. they have terminated their relationship in the wake of everything going on. twitter had to stand up and say, we kicked rt off our platform. we have introduced at transparency initiatives, you will see who buys ads on twitter. you want to explain google? came inbe: google knowing their platform is not as exposed to these issues as facebook and twitter. they said that. they put distance between themselves and facebook and twitter.
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continuedat throughout. [indiscernible] havingf people came away heard 80% about facebook. this is aclear to me, problem for all of the companies. but especially a problem for facebook. host: did either of you come away the with these -- with the impression these ads were effective? ms. gold: i think they were effective. biasesy have reinforced people already had, made them feel like there were people out there just like them that felt the same way, inflamed the tensions they were already touching on. mr. mccabe: one thing we saw with targeting data, a lot of these ads were served a fair
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number of times. there were some that were seen by nobody. but some were seen a lot. and they focused on issues during the campaign. anyone of us that covered that knew they were hot button issues, like immigration, police brutality. absolutely, there was real exposure to these ads. they focused on issues that were very active. it showed an understanding of what was going on in the american political climate. they seemed to really understand what was making people upset. mr. mccabe: right after the election they started trending away from trump, which is telling. host: what is the next step? another round of hearings? whogold: i think of those supported the honest ads act, will keep wishing for it.
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senator klobuchar is certainly pushing for it. there could be more hearings. some lawmakers really wanted to see the ceos in the room. could they get called into d.c., is a possibility. there will be a lot of listening and learning in trying to digest what all the tech companies gedbold yesterday -- divul yesterday. they'll said their investigations are ongoing there is something they have not looked for. with facebook, we saw them upgrade the number of people who may have seen misconduct by 20 million people. that seems like information they had before colin stretch came in with that.
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there may be more shoes to drop. especially when we see or hear about organic content. those are the stories that could flare this issue. see more ads.ill the house intelligence committee will release all 3000 russian-linked ads facebook has turned over. hopefully we will see ads from twitter and google as well. host: how did the ceos not have to appear? ms. gold: they are really busy, have huge companies to run. mark zuckerberg is in china. they wanted people could speak to the technicality and legality of these things. i do not know. mr. mccabe: committee leadership thaty never went out on limb and said, we need mark zuckerberg and the witness chair. we cannot say what would've happened if they had done that. but i remember richard burr came
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out and said, i want someone with technical knowledge. it does not need to be the ceo. it probably was a factor. host: to be continued. david mccabe, ashley gold, thank you for being with us. >> c-span, where history unfolds daily. 1970 nine, c-span was created as a public service for america's cable television companies, and is brought to you today by your cable or satellite provider. >> next, democratic national committee chair tom perez talks about the future of the and upcomingrty
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elections for new jersey. he is also asked about the indictments between former president trump campaign officials and funding for research of a dossier on ties between president trump in russia. posted by the christian science monitor, this is one hour. by the christian science monitor, this is one hour. >> ok, folks. here we go. our guest this morning is tom perez, chairman of the democratic national committee. this is his first appearance at one of our events. although we have been meeting with d&c chairs since larry 1968.n in we also appreciate having the chief psychology officer here as well. thank you for being here. chairman perez is a native of buffalo. his

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