Google Briefs House, Senate Intel Committees Ahead Of Hearings

Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

WASHINGTON (AP) — Tech giant Google has briefed the House and Senate intelligence committees ahead of two Nov. 1 hearings that will examine Russian efforts to influence U.S. elections through social media.

Officials from Google talked to investigators behind closed doors in recent weeks as part of the committees’ probes into Russian meddling in last year’s election, according to people familiar with the briefings. The people declined to be named because the meetings were private.

The panels have recently focused on the spread of false news stories and propaganda on social media and have pressured Google, along with Twitter and Facebook, to provide any evidence of Russian efforts to intervene on their platforms.

Facebook recently provided three congressional committees with more than 3,000 ads they had traced to a Russian internet agency and told investigators of their contents. Twitter also briefed Congress last month and handed over to Senate investigators the profile names, or “handles,” of 201 accounts linked to Russians.

While both of those companies have made public statements about their efforts to discover those accounts, Google has declined to publicly confirm reports that it has also discovered Russia-linked ads on its platforms, such as Google Search and YouTube. It is unclear what Google discussed with the investigators, or whether the company turned over any information.

Google has also declined so far to say whether it will attend the Nov. 1 hearings. The Senate and House intelligence panels have invited Facebook, Twitter and Google to testify at separate hearings that day.

Republican Rep. Mike Conaway of Texas, the head of the House investigation, said last week that he expects all three companies to attend.

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