Google, Facebook, Twitter Scramble To Hold Washington At Bay

By Mark Bergen, Sarah Frier and Selina Wang
Bloomberg News

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) After it was revealed that russian-linked accounts used multiple U.S. advertising networks during the election season, the companies must now figure out how much responsibility to take. Companies like facebook and Twitter also have to figure out how much change to promise, without succumbing to costly regulation or setting a precedent that might be difficult to follow in other countries.

Bloomberg News

Google summoned about 200 policy staff from around the world last month for a debate on whether the company’s size has made it too attractive as a target for government regulators.

The two-day retreat in Monterey, Calif., where employees from the $682 billion company plied Washington policy experts with questions about the pros and cons of its size, took place as Google confronts European antitrust claims and proposed U.S. legislation that would increase online publishers’ liability for content produced by others.

This week, the Alphabet Inc. unit disclosed new information that could further roil the regulatory picture: revelations that Russian-linked accounts used its advertising network to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.

The news put Google in the company of Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc., both of which are embroiled in the controversy surrounding Russia’s involvement in last year’s U.S. elections. Executives at all three companies are scrambling to respond.

Facebook has hired two crisis PR firms, and it plans to bring on as many as 1,000 people to screen ads.

Top executives, including Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg, are phoning members of Congress directly.

The company reported spending more than $3.2 million on lobbying in the first quarter of 2017, a company record.

Google spent almost $6 million in the second quarter for its own record. Both companies, with Twitter, are working together to deal with issues related to the Russian ads.

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