Facebook is being hit with fresh criticism from Capitol Hill as lawmakers reacted harshly Thursday to a New York Times investigation that detailed the company’s efforts to wield influence in Washington after becoming aware of Russia-linked activity on its platform during the 2016 presidential campaign. The explosive article laid out how Facebook’s leadership was reluctant to confront the Russian efforts on its platform and was unprepared for the subsequent firestorm and fallout, which involved the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Specifically, the Times reported that the tech giant used a Republican opposition research firm called Definers Public Affairs to accuse liberal financier George Soros of funding some of the groups that were speaking out against Facebook as it faced public scrutiny over its handling of both the Russian disinformation campaigns and the Cambridge Analytica debacle. On Thursday, a group of Senate Democrats — Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Chris Coons (Del.) and Mazie Hirono (Hawaii) — requested that the Justice Department “expand any investigation into Facebook and Cambridge Analytica to include whether Facebook — or any other entity affiliated with or hired by Facebook — retaliated against critics or public officials seeking to regulate the platform, or hid vital information from the public.”
The Times story is likely to fuel some Democratic lawmakers’ calls to regulate the platform and others, as many in the party have become furious over the string of data privacy breaches and what they see as a lack of accountability in the industry.
“It’s alarming, it’s appalling,” Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) told The Hill. “It shows that they were not behaving like a neutral platform. It shows that they were engaged in information operations. That they have engaged in a strategy to avoid any oversight or regulations. This is what you get when an American corporation gets so big and is exempted from any meaningful oversight.”
Full Article: Facebook reeling after damning NYT report | TheHill.