Google, Facebook and Twitter face Congress over extremist content

The hearing comes a week after tech giants gave evidence on Russian election interference

Twitter, Facebook and Google are set to give evidence to the US Congress about how they're battling extremism, explaining the steps they've each taken to combat such content on their platforms.

The three companies will need to tell the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation how they are attempting to stop extremist messages spreading across their networks in a hearing called "Terrorism and Social Media: Is Big Tech Doing Enough?"

The tech firms will also be asked to show they're making significant steps to stamp out other hateful or conspiratorial content on their platforms - something they've been forced to develop over the last few years as their social networks are increasingly being abused to distribute these kinds of messages.

The hearing will take place on 17 January, a week after the same companies were given a deadline to provide evidence in the case regarding Russian meddling in the US election.

"Facebook and Google met the deadline, and [with] voluminous amounts of information, Twitter did not," Senator Mark Warner told Axios. "I'm disappointed in Twitter."

"They need to understand when they bring in their senior executives and testify before Congress, when Congress then has follow-up written questions, we expect them to answer those questions," Warner added. "So if it's a day or two, fine, but if this is one more attempt for them to kind of punt on their responsibility, that will not go down well with the committee."

However, Twitter claimed it needs more time to get satisfying answers. "We are continuing to work closely with committee investigators to provide detailed, thorough answers to their questions," Twitter said in a statement. "As our review is ongoing, we want to ensure we are providing Congress with the most complete, accurate answers possible." 

In next week's hearing, Facebook, Twitter and Google will reportedly send their heads of public policy rather than senior executives, which Warner said is perhaps not the best approach if they want to make a positive impact.

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