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Facebook, Twitter, Google seek to assuage lawmakers about 2020 US elections

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The sophistication and determination of malicious actors have expanded electoral threat landscape, according to Google

Washington

EXECUTIVES from Facebook Inc, Twitter Inc and Alphabet Inc's Google faced congressional lawmakers on Wednesday amid concerns that the companies haven't done enough to guard against foreign influence campaigns in the 2020 elections.

They're testifying alongside government officials before the national security subcommittee of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

The tech giants are seeking to assure lawmakers that they take the threat of foreign influence seriously after being blindsided by Kremlin-backed disinformation campaigns on their platforms during the 2016 election. At the same time, they're warning of US adversaries developing new ways of meddling.

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"The sophistication and determination of malicious actors have expanded the electoral threat landscape," according to the prepared testimony of Richard Salgado, Google's director of law enforcement and information security.

The head of Facebook's cybersecurity policy, Nathaniel Gleicher, said in prepared testimony that the company will set up an operation centre in preparation for the election.

Others, including Twitter public policy manager Kevin Kane, said collaborating with the government is key for halting disinformation campaigns. Information sharing will be "critical to Twitter's success in preventing hostile foreign actors from disrupting meaningful political conversations on the platform," he said in prepared testimony.

Officials from the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department, the Election Assistance Commission and the Federal Election Commission also participated in the hearing.

"We recognise that there is a significant technology deficit" within state and local election systems, Christopher Krebs, head of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency at the Department of Homeland Security, said in prepared testimony.

"It will take significant effort and continual investment to ensure that election systems across the nation are upgraded and secure, with vulnerable systems retired." BLOOMBERG