By Aaron Pressman and Adam Lashinsky
September 6, 2018

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Official Washington was riveted Wednesday by the theater of a Senate hearing to confirm an associate justice of the Supreme Court. The technology and business community was busier following the testimony of a bearded and tieless founder, Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, and an on-message, Washington-savvy business poo-bah, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg.

Nothing much will change as a result of either of these hearings. Brett Kavanaugh will be confirmed. Twitter and Facebook will continue to avoid acknowledging that they are media companies while dodging and weaving on accepting further regulation in Washington.

Dorsey, belying his techno-visionary status, read nervously from his phone. Sandberg, true to her Harvard-McKinsey-Treasury-Google training, intoned in a well-rehearsed fashion.

One line, however, from Sandberg’s voluminous prepared testimony stands out. “The threat we face is not new,” Sandberg told the Senators. “America has always confronted attacks from opponents who wish to undermine our democracy. What is new are the tactics they use.”

What’s also new is that a single powerful company was the reckless dupe of America’s enemies. The Wall Street Journal reported convincingly Wednesday that Facebook engineers were well aware of their “platform” being used as a vessel for Russian interference in the 2016 elections. This was before Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg publicly pooh-poohed the notion that Facebook might be culpable.

Sandberg testified at length about all the ways Facebook is trying to make amends. And all it took was a novel attack on the way of life that allows Facebook to thrive to spur it to action.

***

Talk about riveting, tech followers everywhere are glued to the details of the Minnesota arrest of JD.com CEO Richard Liu, a star of this summer’s Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference, on suspicion of rape. An impossible-to-ignore detail: Liu’s lawyer is named Earl Gray.

Adam Lashinsky
@adamlashinsky
adam_lashinsky@fortune.com

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