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Social Media Takes a Beating on the Hill — CEO Daily, Thursday, 2nd November

November 2, 2017, 11:43 AM UTC

Good morning.

The U.S. Senate has finally found a cause for bipartisan action: bashing Facebook and Google. The tech giants (plus Twitter) took a thumping yesterday for their slow response to evidence that Russia was using them to try to manipulate the 2016 election.

Here’s Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, in whose state all three companies reside:

“I don’t think you get it. What we’re talking about is a cataclysmic change. What we’re talking about is the beginning of cyber warfare…You bear this responsibility. You’ve created these platforms. And now they are being misused. And you have to be the ones to do something about it. Or we will.”

So much for the home state advantage. And here’s Republican Senator Richard Burr, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee:

“This is about national security. This is about corporate responsibility. And this is about the deliberate and multi-faceted manipulation of the American people by agents of a hostile foreign power.”

Three takeaways from the day’s drubbing:

First—The tech companies erred badly by not sending their CEOs to face the music. It’s a sign they aren’t taking the charges seriously enough, and it will only inflame the anger on Capitol Hill.

Second—As CEO Daily has argued before, the line that “we’re not media companies, we are just platforms” needs to be abandoned. To quote Lyndon Johnson, “that dog won’t hunt.”

Third—This problem doesn’t end with the Russian investigation. The Senators believe—as do I—that the tech companies have to accept some responsibility for the quality and veracity of the information they pass on to Americans. That has far-reaching implications…which, of course, is why the companies so desperately, but futilely, cling to the notion that they are mere neutral “platforms.”

More news below.


Alan Murray

Top News

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