Social media giants get Congressional tongue-lashing

Congress delivered a tongue-lashing to senior officials from Facebook, Google and Twitter on Wednesday, for allowing Russian actors to place ads on their sites in an attempt to influence the 2016 presidential election.

UNITED STATES (REUTERS) - Social media giants get another tongue-lashing from Congress.

Democrats in Congress on Wednesday (Nov 1) released a hefty sampling of the infamous Russia-backed Facebook ads from the 2016 campaign as the storm over Moscow's use of American social media to sway the race played out in hearing rooms across the Capitol.

The ads blanketed both Facebook and Instagram funded by the Kremlin, but disguised as activist organizations for everything from gun rights to fighting police violence.

One ad calling Hillary Clinton "Satan.. another…. XXXX"

Wednesday's hearings revealed 20 million Americans may have seen such content on Instagram, owned by

Facebook, on top of the 126 million people who saw it on Facebook.

The ads and other postings designed to sow divisions and in many cases, to help Donald Trump. Lawmakers on Wednesday wanted to know why Silicon Valley was apparently asleep at the switch.

Cybersecurity reporter Dustin Volz says: "What have lawmakers learned? How far did these ads reach, and on what platforms? How did they affect the 2016 election's outcome?"

Lawmakers in the Senate and House Intelligence committees hammered home the message that Facebook, Twitter and Google must do a better job of policing foreign attempts to exploit their platforms, which could be ominous for the tech industry.

Mr Volz says: "What is the big, overarching question hanging in the air right now? How likely is it that there could be greater regulation of the industry coming? How would that change the way being online works?"