Representative Louie Gohmert (R-TX) grilled representatives from Facebook, YouTube and Twitter about whether or not foreign powers aside from Russia use their platforms to spread propaganda — none of the Masters of the Universe were able to answer the question.
Rep. Louie Gohmert pulled no punches today, grilling representatives from Facebook, YouTube, and Google about the influence of foreign powers aside from Russia on their platforms. Gohmert asked the Silicon Valley representatives: “Did you ever find any indication of use of your platform, utilized by the Chinese, North Korea or any other foreign country intelligence or agency of that country?”
Facebook’s representative Monika Bickert replied to Gohmert first saying: “I would note Congressman that we are not in North Korea or China, in terms of whether we’ve seen attacks on our services, we are of course a big target, we do have a robust security team-” Bickert was then interrupted by Gohmert: “that’s not my question, it’s a very direct question, have you found — you don’t have to be in North Korea to be North Korean intelligence, we have foreign intelligence agencies in this country. It seemed to me you were each a little bit vague saying ‘oh yes we found hundreds- or whatever,” said Gohmert referencing responses from the representatives relating to Russian interference. “I’m asking, specifically were any of those other countries besides Russia using your platform inappropriately, it should be a yes or no.”
Bickert replied: “I don’t have the details, I know definitely we work to detect and repel attacks-” Gohmert once again stated: “I know that but were any of them foreign entities other than Russia?” Bickert echoed Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s go-to reply during his own hearing before Congress, stating: “I can certainly follow up with you on that.” Gohmert pressed Bickert further saying: “so you don’t know? You sure seemed anxious to answer the Democrats questions about Russia influence, and you don’t really know of all of the groups that inappropriately used your platform, you don’t know which were Russians and which were other foreign entities?” Bickert replied: “Congressman, we certainly have seen attacks from people other than Russians, as far as the details from whom those attacks have come, I would have to have my team follow up with you on those.”
“So you don’t know about China?” Gohmert asked: “You’re sure about Russia, but you don’t know about China? So you came prepared to help the Democrats establish about Russia, but you can’t point out any other country, is that right?” Bickert began to reply stating that Facebook had publicly discussed their security when Gohmert moved onto the next Silicon Valley representative: “Ok well let me go to — you’re not answering the question — let me go to Ms. Downs [Juniper Downs] on Google, did you detect any other countries besides Russia utilizing your platform inappropriately?”
Downs replied: “Our security team is trained to protect our services from interference from all foreign governments, so the team has certainly, um…” Gohmert once again interrupted asking: “Are we going to get to answer my question? Did you find any other countries besides Russia that were using your platform inappropriately, very simple.”
Downs stated: “The investigation we conducted was specific to Russian interference in the 2016 election but..” Gohmert asked: “So you don’t know if China did or not?” Downs stated: “My guess would be that our security team has had attempts at breaching our security from other foreign governments as well but that information is held confidentially even internally.”
“So you’re here to guess?” said Gohmert: “So you’re only here to condemn the Russians, thank you. How about you Mr. Pickles,” said Gohmert directing his next question towards Twitter representative Nick Pickles. “Are you prepared to identify any other foreign countries or just here to help the Democrats blast Russia after 70 years of Russia helping the Democrats?”
“Well, I’m certainly happy to help the committee and yourself understand our work to defend elections-” replied Pickles before Gohmert interrupted stating: “I understand that but did you find any other countries besides Russia that inappropriately used Twitter?” Pickles replied: “So we suspend these accounts because they are breaking our rules-” Gohmert once again cut him off: “I understand that, did you find any other countires or their agencies inappropriately using Twitter?”
Pickles attempted to “echo the points of his colleagues,” but Gohmert pressed him once again asking if Twitter had found evidence of any other countries inappropriately using their platform. Pickles stated that he was happy to follow up on the question, Gohmert replied “but you did not come prepared to answer any question about any other country other than Russia, is that correct? You answered the question about Russia; you can’t answer the question about China, yes or no?”
“So we make these decisions based on our rules,” replied Pickles. Gohmert replied: “You’re very good at dodging and refusing to answer the question, let me just say I think Congressman Raskin had the key to the solution here when he said that he didn’t think they discriminated but if they did they have every bit as much right as Fox News and Sinclair, there’s the key, they should be just as liable as Fox News and Sinclair.”
The full interaction can be seen in the video above.