Twitter Expected to Talk With U.S. Lawmakers About Russian Ad Buys During the 2016 Campaign

Vice chairman of Intel Committee calls for hearing

A top-ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee has called for a hearing with Twitter about any Russian interference during the presidential campaign.
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A top-ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee says he wants Twitter to brief members of Congress on whether accounts originating in Russia might have played a role in the U.S. presidential election.

Today, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Virginia), vice chairman of the committee, said executives from the social media platform are expected to brief lawmakers in the coming weeks to explain how Russian operates might have purchased ads on the platform during the 2016 campaign in a way that might have swayed U.S. voter opinions.

Warner’s spokesperson confirmed the expected meeting to Adweek on Thursday, explaining that the first discussion will likely be an informal staff interview. However, Warner has also called for the Senate Intelligence Committee to hold a more formal hearing with Twitter, Facebook and potentially other social media platforms.

A spokesperson for Twitter declined comment when asked if the company plans to meet with lawmakers.

The news comes just a day after Facebook confirmed fake accounts and pages likely originating in Russia bought around $100,000 in digital ads between 2015 and 2017. On Wednesday, Facebook briefed U.S. lawmakers on their findings while also confirming that the company has so far identified around 3,000 ads addressing hot-button issues such as LGBT matters, race issues and gun control.

In a blog post on Wednesday afternoon, Facebook Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos said the company is willing to work with lawmakers and to share any further findings. (As recently as July, Facebook said Russia had not interfered with the election.)

A spokesperson for Sen. Richard Burr (R-North Carolina), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, could not be immediately reached for comment on whether he plans to schedule an official hearing.