Congress had a chance this week to hear from executives at the big three social media companies -Facebook, Google and Twitter about the companies selling political advertising to Russian trolls.
Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch, Twitter General Counsel Sean Edgett, and Google’s head of information security and law enforcement Richard Salgado testified before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee Tuesday. This is in the first of three hearings for tech executives this week.
Social Media Companies have grown quickly
The near-impossible task of policing social media has been illustrated this week with discussion of the speed of their growth and the reach that they have.
The hearing originally was planned to focus on working with these companies and finding solutions. After hours of discussion both sides voiced many concerns but few solutions.
Should Social Media Companies know where their money is coming from?
If you have ever used any of these platforms you know that they work by focusing on what you post or send with the goal of sending advertising to you. The companies use start of the art algorithms and software to accomplish this and the same software can be used to identify trends – like the purchase of over 3,000 political adds by the Russians during the 2016 election.
Social media companies claim they can’t know because of the amount of advertising purchased and the frequency of change.
Who runs these Social Media Companies?
As is the case with many technology companies, many social media companies have their starts with technical people who have become businessmen second to the innovation of their technology.
The specific leaders (CEO’s / etc) can be found on the various companies websites in more detail that I can discuss here – but overall it’s about tech first. In the case of most of the successful technology companies the innovator usually surrounds themselves by good people who are able to manage areas they are weaker on. There are exceptions – once is Microsoft whose founder Bill Gates began on a model of licensing intellectual property from other people and then modifying and selling it.
Is the inquiry into social media companies only about Russian Interference?
The sessions started based on concerns of Russian interference in the 2016 election. It has quickly moved to more of an inquiry on the size and power of social media companies. The law general is behind technology, and now with tech moving so quickly is it almost impossible to keep up.
William (Bill) Sikkens has been a technology expert for KXL on the Morning Show with Steve and Rebecca since 2014. With an expertise in I.T., cyber security and software design he has had more than 20 years’ experience with advanced technology. Sikkens conceptualizes and designs custom applications for many professional industries from health care to banking and has the ability to explain the details in a way all can understand.
Got a technology question or comment for Bill? Follow him on Twitter @sikkensw