Facebook, Twitter and Google can’t say how far-reaching Russian political influence is on their platforms

Facebook’s Colin Stretch, Twitter’s Sean Edgett, and Google’s Kent Walker take the oath before the Senate Intelligence Committee. (Screenshot via YouTube)

Top lawyers from Facebook, Twitter, and Google confirmed that they still don’t know how much influence Russian government-backed agents wield on their platforms during a hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee Wednesday morning.

They were asked as much by Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia in a tense back-and-forth. Not one of the companies said yes. Sean Edgett of Twitter and Facebook’s Colin Stretch said no and Google’s Kent Walker waffled a bit, saying his company has done a thorough investigation but “these are ongoing issues and we continue to investigate.”

“Candidly, your companies know more about Americans in many ways than the United States government does, and the idea that you had no idea that any of this was happening strains my credibility,” Warner said.

Warner grew frustrated with Stretch, in particular, when he wasn’t able to definitively answer whether Facebook had cross-checked 30,000 accounts suspended for suspicious activity in France with U.S. election interference.

Edgett, Stretch, and Walker are testifying before Congress on how their platforms facilitated Russian interference in the 2016 election in a series of hearings this week. They were called before the Senate Intelligence Committee this morning and will testify for the equivalent House panel this afternoon.

Overall, this morning’s hearing shows that lawyers from the three companies will endure much tougher questioning today than they did during yesterday’s hearing before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee.

“You created these platforms and now you have to be the ones to do something, or we will,” said Sen. Diane Feinstein during today’s hearing.

Developing story. More to come.