Facebook, Twitter, and Google Summoned to Congressional Panel on Russian Election Interference

Hearing is scheduled for Nov. 1.

Representatives of Facebook, Twitter and Google have been asked to appear on Nov. 1 at hearings on alleged Russian interference in U.S. politics called by the U.S. Senate and House Intelligence Committees, officials said.

Facebook and Twitter have already agreed to send representatives to the Senate committee hearing, a Congressional official said.

An official knowledgeable about House committee plans declined to disclosed whether the companies have agreed to send representatives to its hearing.

Sources said that Google had not yet notified the committees that it would send representatives to the hearings, though ultimately the company was likely to do so.

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Women Are Boycotting Twitter Today in Solidarity with Rose McGowan

The site suspended the actress’s account after she tweeted about the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

Women on Twitter have Rose McGowan’s back.

Female users of the site have launched a boycott of the social media platform after it briefly suspended McGowan’s account following her tweets about the alleged sexual misconduct of film producer Harvey Weinstein.

McGowan on Thursday said Twitter suspended her account after she posted tweets directed at Ben Affleck. In her messages, she told the actor to “fuck off” and accused him of lying about what he knew of Weinstein’s history of sexual misconduct.

Critics blasted the social media site for suspending McGowan’s account while allowing other users who post offensive and hateful messages to maintain their Twitter presence. The incident prompted software engineer Kelly Ellis to call for a boycott of Twitter. The day-long protest that began at midnight on Friday is intended to call attention to “women’s voices being silenced” on the social media site, according to a placard being shared by boycott participants.

More than 126,000 people used #WomenBoycottTwitter in the lead-up to the protest, with some using the hashtag to share stories of their own harassment on the site.

Actress Tara Strong posted that she’d received 34 violent death threats from a user on Twitter, but the site did not suspend his account. Twitter reportedly found that he did not violate Twitter Rules.

Actress Erin Fitzgerald tweeted that someone was impersonating her on Twitter and sending “porno messages” to her coworkers. When she reported it, she was suspended from Twitter.

Model Chrissy Teigen called on women to boycott the site because she “loves” Twitter and knows “it can be better.”

Actress Alyssa Milano tweeted that Friday would be the first day in ten years that she wouldn’t tweet, and she asked others to join her in protest.

Men also supported of the boycott, including actors Mark Ruffalo and Terry Crews. Earlier this week Crews shared his own experience with sexual harassment by a Hollywood executive.

Some suggested the boycott was foolhardy, as it would effectively silence women on the platform. Comedian Kathy Griffin responded to that argument, tweeting, “#WomenBoycottTwitter will not silence us, but @Twitter will make much less $ $ b/c of fewer clicks.”

When Fortune asked for comment on the boycott, Holger Kersting, Twitter’s communications director for EMEA, referred to a previous thread posted to the @TwitterSafety account, which said:

‘Twitter is proud to empower and support the voices on our platform, especially those that speak truth to power. We stand with the brave women and men who use Twitter to share their stories, and will work hard every day to improve our processes to protect those voices.”

“Nothing more specific to add beyond this right now,” Kersting said.

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Facebook, Google, Twitter asked to testify on Russian meddling

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Executives from Facebook, Alphabet Inc’s Google and Twitter have been asked to testify to the U.S. Congress in coming weeks as lawmakers probe Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. election, committee sources said on Wednesday.

A Senate aide said executives from the three firms had been asked by the Senate Intelligence Committee to appear at a public hearing on Nov. 1.

The leaders of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee said the panel would hold an open hearing next month with representatives from unnamed technology companies in an effort to “better understand how Russia used online tools and platforms to sow discord in and influence our election.”

Representatives for Facebook and Google confirmed they had received invitations from the Senate committee but did not say whether the companies would attend. Twitter did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The House panel did not immediately identify any companies, but a committee source said lawmakers expected to hear from the same three firms the Senate had asked to testify.

The requests are the latest move by congressional investigators to gain information from internet companies as they probe the extent of Moscow’s alleged efforts to disrupt last year’s U.S. election. Lawmakers in both parties have grown increasingly concerned that social networks may have played a key role in Russia’s influence operation.

Facebook revealed this month that suspected Russian trolls purchased more than $ 100,000 worth of divisive ads on its platform during the 2016 election cycle, a revelation that has prompted calls from some Democrats for new disclosure rules for online political ads.

On Wednesday, Trump attacked Facebook in a tweet and suggested the world’s largest social network had colluded with other media outlets that opposed him. The president has been skeptical of the conclusions of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the election and has denied his campaign colluded with Moscow.

The salvo prompted a lengthy rebuke from Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, who said both Trump and liberals were upset about ideas and content on Facebook during the campaign.

“That’s what running a platform for all ideas looks like,” Zuckerberg wrote on his personal Facebook page.

Other internet firms besides Facebook are also facing rising scrutiny over how Russia may have leveraged their platforms. Twitter is expected to privately brief the Senate panel on Thursday.

Republican Senator James Lankford, who has received classified information about Russia’s interference as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on Wednesday that the country’s attempts to sow discord in U.S. domestic affairs had not abated.

Russian internet trolls over the weekend fueled the debate ignited by Trump over whether NFL players should have the right to kneel during the national anthem, Lankford said.

Also on Wednesday, the Daily Beast, citing unnamed sources, reported that a Facebook group named “United Muslims of America” was a fake account linked to the Russian government and that it was used to push false claims about U.S. politicians, including Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

The group bought Facebook ads to reach targeted audiences, promoting political rallies aimed at Muslims, the website reported.

The Senate and House intelligence committees are two of the main congressional panels probing allegations that Russia sought to interfere in the U.S. election to boost Trump’s chances at winning the White House, and possible collusion between Trump associates and Russia.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle and Dustin Volz, additional reporting by Paresh Dave; Editing by Peter Cooney and Andrew Hay

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Tech

Twitter Isn’t Doing Enough About Leslie Jones’ Racist Trolls

In a perfect world, Leslie Jones would’ve spent her Monday celebrating the release of her new childhood-ruining movie, Ghostbusters : Attack of the Feminmiminismsists, but instead she’s putting up with some bullshit on Twitter. Monday night, Jones exposed and called out the insanely racist abuse she’s been receiving.

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The Pokemon GO Craze, Nintendo’s Surge, And How Twitter Predicted It All

By now you’ve read the stories. People staring at their phones, trying to capture small digital creatures and walking blindly into traffic. A woman discovering a corpse while hunting for a cartoon on her phone near a river. Groups of gamers congregating near complete strangers’ homes, seemingly at random. All of it, connected to the latest mobile craze courtesy of Nintendo – Pokemon GO. The new virtual, mobile game is getting a tremendous amount of buzz in the media, among users and on Wall Street. In the first week post launch, Nintendo moved from its usual spot around 24th in the LikeFolio Top50 all the way up to 6th– getting more Twitter mentions of its brands and products than powerhouse companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Netflix and Facebook.


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Twitter app ads now support autoplay video

Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 12.30.33 PM
App ads are about on Twitter are about to get a bit more lively; brands can now promote their products with video. Previously, companies had to use regular old promoted text or image tweets as their best bet to advertise apps to their audiences. Twitter says video leads to higher user engagement and nearly triple the app installs, given nearly 90 percent of its video views are on mobile devices. WATCH: Bring your app to life with the Video App Card https://t.co/OEhtqHUy7r — Twitter Advertising (@TwitterAds) September 24, 2015   Overall, 82 percent users watch video on the platform, so the ads…

This story continues at The Next Web


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Facebook goes down and Twitter lights up

Facebook crashed for at least 10 minutes today and then struggled to fully come back online.

When users tried to open or refresh their Facebook pages a little after 12:30 p.m. ET today, they were greeted not with their news feed but with a largely blank screen that simply said, “Sorry, something went wrong. We’re working on it and we’ll get it fixed as soon as we can.”

The site began to come back online around 12:50 p.m., though some users reported still having trouble loading the site until about 1 p.m.

Facebook did not return a request for information on what caused the problem.

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Twitter confirms it’s experimenting with native polls in tweets

Twitter typographic wallpaper

Twitter is looking at possibly letting users add quick polls to their tweets. A company spokesperson confirmed the move in a statement to VentureBeat saying, “We’re experimenting with a new way to poll users on Twitter.”

Right now, it looks like polls are only visible on Twitter’s mobile apps and website, but not on desktop applications like TweetDeck. There’s no indication of whether this capability will be rolled out to the rest of the 316 million monthly active users, as it’s an experiment that could wind up being shelved.

Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 1.04.00 PM

This isn’t the first time that Twitter has rolled out polls on its communications service. Previously, companies were able to poll their followers through custom card polls. In 2014, Twitter revealed that it was testing out a feature that would enable native ads for publishers. Today’s sightings may hint that these could be rolled out to a wider audience.

From what we’ve seen, all polls have a 24-hour time limit on them.

While Twitter declined to provide more information, a quick query on the site showed that at least Twitter employees and also some verified profiles, including those in the media and in sports, have access to embed these polls.

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Lyft, Uber poach key Twitter engineers, managers amid turmoil

A taxi is reflected in a window at the office of taxi-hailing service Uber Inc in Hong Kong, China August 12, 2015. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

By Yasmeen Abutaleb

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Ride services Lyft and Uber have poached dozens of key Twitter employees over the past year, including top engineering managers, to help personalize their apps.

Twitter’s management turmoil and 44 percent stock fall over the last 12 months have helped Lyft and Uber recruit key talent, as the micro-blogging site’s employees look to recreate its early success elsewhere, tech recruiters said.

At least 25 former Twitter employees have joined Uber since January 2014, according to a search by Reuters of LinkedIn, including top managers such as Raffi Krikorian, an engineering lead at Uber since March.

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Lyft has poached approximately 15 former Twitter employees, including senior managers and engineers such as Peter Morelli, now a key engineering manager at Lyft.

That is an unusually large number of people leaving in a short time span, tech recruiters said.

Ride-sharing companies are especially attractive because they aim to disrupt the transportation industry, much as Twitter disrupted communication, said Dave Carvajal, founder and CEO of Dave Partners, a tech recruiting firm.

“Twitter is having harder times and there are only a few places in town that are larger companies that are going to go public. Lyft and Uber are some of the best of those places,” added Mehul Patel, CEO of Hired, a tech recruiting firm.

Twitter employees are especially valuable as they have data skills that help Lyft and Uber understand consumer behavior, critical for the ride services as they look to personalize customers’ experiences with their apps.

“These people are some of the brightest talent out there,” Carvajal said.

Recruiting has grown increasingly competitive in Silicon Valley as start-ups valued at more than $ 1 billion, including Lyft and Uber, ramp up hiring as they look to go public.

Lyft’s staff has grown more than 70 percent since the start of 2015, a spokeswoman told Reuters, but she declined to say how many employees it has. Uber has added nearly 1,000 employees over the past year, according to the company. The numbers do not include drivers, who the firms class as contractors rather than employees.

Twitter did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

(Reporting by Yasmeen Abutaleb, editing by Stephen R. Trousdale and Andrew Hay)

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