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Political Editors / September 7, 2018

Facebook and Twitter Face Congress

Concerns are raised over social media giants being used by foreign powers to work against U.S. interests.

The chief operating officer of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, and the CEO of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee Wednesday to answer a range of questions, most of which were directed at the problem of foreign actors using the social media platforms to disseminate misinformation or “fake news.” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) showed specific concern over Google, for whom no company representative attended even though an invitation had been given. Cotton noted Google’s recent deal with the Chinese government and asked Sandberg and Dorsey, “Would your companies ever consider taking these actions [that Google has taken] that privilege a hostile foreign power over our men in uniform?” Naturally, both answered in the negative.

Cotton then got to the root of the matter, asking, “Do you prefer to see America remain the world’s dominant global superpower?” Both answered in the affirmative while at the same time noting that their companies are global in scale.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), concerned about the creep of “moral equivalency” negatively affecting the policy and business decisions of these social media giants, asked if they agreed with the statement, “There’s no moral equivalency between what we are asking you to do and what Turkey is asking you to do.” Again, both agreed.

Clearly, the issue here is one of the challenges faced by an increasingly globalist economy, specifically when it comes to the social media companies, bumping into national economies and their varying cultural values and economic laws. And for international companies to work in different countries, the laws and values of those various countries will often dictate how those companies will be allowed to operate. Will an American company that has become increasingly a global company be more beholden to its bottom line than make a commitment to being pro-American, and therefore be willing to engage in business deals with foreign powers that may be damaging to the U.S.?

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