Schumer deflects claims that he pushed colleagues to go easy on Facebook

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer defended himself Thursday against a report that he encouraged his col...

Posted: Nov 16, 2018 8:44 AM
Updated: Nov 16, 2018 8:44 AM

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer defended himself Thursday against a report that he encouraged his colleagues to go easy on Facebook amid investigations into the social media giant's role in spreading Russian misinformation during the 2016 presidential campaign.

According to the New York Times, Schumer urged Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, to find ways to work with Facebook rather than harm it.

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Schumer spokesman Justin Goodman said in a statement Thursday that the New York senator "has worked aggressively to push Facebook to do more to purge fake accounts and bots used by the right wing and Russians to perpetuate a disinformation campaign and interfere with our elections."

"Schumer has worried that Facebook would bow to pressure from Republicans, who oppose the purging of the fake accounts and bots, and has urged Senator Warner and the Senate Intelligence committee to make this the priority in their ongoing investigation of the company," Goodman added.

Warner declined to answer questions about the Times' claims on Thursday.

"I'm not going to talk about any private conversations I had with the leader," Warner told reporters. "He was very aware of the fact that our committee has been relentless, and has still got a lot of questions that need to get answered."

He added that the Times' description of Facebook's efforts to sidestep questions about Russian meddling efforts conducted via its platforms, including Instagram, validated congressional inquiries.

"Frankly, but for the Intelligence inquiry and constant pressure, I think we would be even more in the dark," Warner said. "And I'm happy to see that there's greater cooperation now, but clearly this was the case as we suspected that for a number of months, they just hoped this problem was going away."

Warner's House intelligence committee counterpart, California Rep. Adam Schiff, told CNN that he didn't know whether the claims about Schumer are "accurate or not."

Schiff added that he "certainly" intends to talk to Facebook about the Times' "concerning" report.

"They were obviously slow to come to grips with what the Russians were doing on their platform and the misuse of their platform," said Schiff. "If they were deliberately slow to convey that information to us, that's deeply disturbing."

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told reporters in a conference call Thursday that the company had been too slow to deal with the Russian disinformation problem on its platform in 2016, but said it was "simply untrue" to suggest that he and other executives "weren't interested in knowing the truth."

The intelligence community's assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 elections in part by using social media platforms like Facebook changed the company's relationship with Washington.

Many members of Congress appear to remain unsure of how to hold the company accountable. During Mark Zuckerberg's April hearing before senators -- the most high-profile showdown between Facebook and Washington -- some of the members of Congress seemed either unfamiliar with its business or to treat it with deference.

Schumer has publicly been a Facebook fan.

In March, he told the tech website Recode that Facebook is a "very powerful force."

"I think overall it's been a very positive force," said Schumer. "I think now people are taking advantage of the openness of the net, and Facebook has an obligation to try and deal with it. I've talked to them. I truly believe they want to. I truly believe they know that their future is at stake with this. I also believe it's a hard thing to do."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 515208

Reported Deaths: 10290
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34981557
DeSoto33342432
Hinds32718643
Jackson24896391
Rankin22553404
Lee16439245
Madison14949283
Jones14155248
Forrest13829260
Lauderdale12305324
Lowndes11348193
Lamar10687140
Pearl River9739244
Lafayette8867143
Hancock7847132
Washington7555169
Oktibbeha7228138
Monroe7055179
Pontotoc7026110
Warren6883178
Panola6783135
Neshoba6740210
Marshall6705142
Bolivar6468151
Union642898
Pike5941157
Alcorn5912107
Lincoln5539136
George510680
Prentiss507785
Tippah495483
Itawamba4877107
Scott478799
Adams4775125
Tate4774117
Leflore4747144
Copiah458095
Yazoo457892
Simpson4565117
Wayne443472
Covington434895
Sunflower4318106
Marion4295112
Coahoma4243109
Leake414090
Newton396082
Tishomingo386194
Grenada3786109
Stone365966
Jasper341266
Attala339590
Winston317992
Chickasaw317667
Clay312778
Clarke301695
Calhoun286349
Holmes272589
Smith269952
Yalobusha244647
Tallahatchie232353
Greene225149
Walthall222166
Lawrence220241
Perry214456
Amite210257
Webster206548
Noxubee188843
Montgomery182157
Carroll175241
Jefferson Davis174043
Tunica163539
Benton153239
Kemper145441
Choctaw137027
Claiborne134639
Humphreys132239
Franklin126430
Quitman107828
Wilkinson106139
Jefferson96934
Sharkey65321
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 847064

Reported Deaths: 16157
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1163702006
Mobile743001381
Madison53394737
Shelby38395371
Baldwin38140589
Tuscaloosa36096642
Montgomery34535782
Lee25639264
Calhoun22620519
Morgan22503408
Etowah20043520
Marshall18812317
Houston17754425
St. Clair16928358
Limestone16178220
Cullman16113304
Elmore15927295
Lauderdale15042307
Talladega14234301
DeKalb13033270
Walker12119380
Blount10756193
Autauga10531157
Jackson10191195
Coffee9431192
Colbert9356210
Dale9035192
Tallapoosa7283202
Russell709665
Chilton7077170
Escambia6961144
Covington6956195
Franklin6355108
Chambers5791142
Marion5428130
Dallas5299210
Pike5124109
Clarke485586
Lawrence4841130
Winston4784110
Geneva4649136
Bibb435294
Barbour370080
Butler3445101
Marengo342793
Monroe338066
Randolph337367
Pickens334689
Fayette331385
Henry320866
Cherokee319563
Hale318589
Crenshaw261577
Washington256852
Cleburne255460
Lamar253355
Clay251669
Macon245465
Conecuh193262
Coosa185647
Lowndes178268
Wilcox178138
Bullock152545
Perry141840
Sumter139741
Greene130245
Choctaw93328
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