Google Is A No-Show At Senate Social Media Hearing

Evie Fordham | Politics and Health Care Reporter

Google was a no-show at the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing focusing on social media and foreign election meddling Wednesday.

Google declined to send its CEO Sundar Pichai or its parent company Alphabet’s CEO Larry Page to testify. An empty chair sat where Google’s representative would have been seated to answer senators’ questions, reported CNBC.

“I’m disappointed Google decided against sending the right senior level executive,” North Carolina Republican Sen. Richard Burr said during his opening remarks at the Wednesday hearing, according to CNBC.

Google had been willing to send senior vice president of global affairs Kent Walker, but the committee said no, reported Politico. Walker submitted roughly five pages of written testimony to the committee despite the rejection. The testimony emphasized that Google is committed to removing foreign “bad actors” from its pages, reported CNBC.

“Over the last 18 months we’ve met with dozens of Committee Members and briefed major Congressional Committees numerous times on our work to prevent foreign interference in US elections,” a Google spokesperson told The Daily Caller News Foundation in a statement Wednesday.

“[Walker], who reports directly to our CEO and is responsible for our work in this area, will be in Washington, D.C. today, where he will deliver written testimony, brief Members of Congress on our work, and answer any questions they have,” the statement continued. “We had informed the Senate Intelligence Committee of this in late July and had understood that he would be an appropriate witness for this hearing.”

Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner called out Google in several Twitter posts. Warner wished the company had been present so that he could ask Google about reports that it is building a censored search engine for the Chinese government, the senator wrote on Twitter Tuesday.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey were present at Wednesday’s hearing. Sandberg admitted that Facebook was “too slow” to take action against Russian misinformation on its site ahead of the 2016 presidential election, reported USA Today(RELATED: Exclusive: Trump Accuses Social Media Companies Of Interfering On Hillary’s Behalf)

Dorsey was grilled by Rhode Island Democratic Sen. Jack Reed and admitted that it was within Twitter’s power to label bots, although it is harder for the social media platform to identify more sophisticated accounts.

Follow Evie on Twitter @eviefordham.

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