Witnesses for Facebook, Twitter and Google arrive at Tuesday's hearing. Photo: Andrew Harnik / AP

The top lawyers for Google, Twitter and Facebook spent more than two hours yesterday explaining how they are cracking down on malicious activity by foreign actors, but we walked away from the hearing with a few unanswered questions. The tech execs will have two more interrogations today by both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees.

What was the overall influence of this Russian campaign? This question is at the heart of the investigation into social media's impact on the election, and it was posed by Hawaii's Sen. Mazie Hirono. But Facebook's general counsel Colin Stretch said he wasn't able to make judgements on voters' motivations last November.

  • Will the companies support the Honest Ads Act? They danced around whether they would back legislation that would make them disclose more information about online political ads. Sen. Mark Warner is sure to push them on this during today's hearing.
  • What about the role the companies play in shaping ad campaigns? Google and Facebook's representatives avoided commenting on a news report that employees had worked with an anti-immigrant ad campaign. And, thanks to the "embedded" employees the companies had with the Trump campaign, there are more questions about how the firms work with controversial issue campaigns.
  • Will their resources be sufficient to fight this issue? The companies have pledged to invest more money and personnel to catch and prevent extremist content. But several senators were doubtful that they'll be able to successfully identify the origin of so much content and advertising. This is a question that users have, too: Per a recent Axios-SurveyMonkey poll, a majority of Americans think that human screening (rather than algorithms) should be the primary way that social media platforms screen for "inappropriate and offensive ads or content."
  • How much do lawmakers really understand about online metrics? The tech execs are fluent in the language of impressions, organic content, reach and views — but it was clear that the lawmakers are not. Several asked for clarifications on the technical intricacies of the issue. It was a hard conversation to follow for those not steeped in internet lingo, and that could be a vulnerability for the companies trying to convince Congress that Russian-influenced content on their platforms was relatively small.

Today: The Senate Intelligence Committee's hearing with the companies starts at 9:30 a.m. Eastern, and the House Intelligence Committee holds its hearing at 2:00 p.m. Eastern.

Go deeper: What Facebook, Google and Twitter said in their first hearing

Go deeper

Updated 22 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 6:15 p.m. EST: 32,062,182 — Total deaths: 979,701 — Total recoveries: 22,057,268Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 6:15 p.m EST: 6,967,103 — Total deaths: 202,558 — Total recoveries: 2,670,256 — Total tests: 97,459,742Map.
  3. Health: Cases are surging again in 22 states — New York will conduct its own review of coronavirus vaccine.
  4. Business: America is closing out its strongest quarter of economic growth.
  5. Technology: 2020 tech solutions may be sapping our resolve to beat the pandemic.
  6. Sports: Here's what college basketball will look like this season.
  7. Science: During COVID-19 shutdown, a common sparrow changed its song.
2 hours ago - Podcasts

The child care tax on America's economy

Child care in the U.S. is in crisis, which makes it much harder for the American economy to recover — as providers struggle to stay in business and parents wrestle with work.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the problems and what can be done to solve them, with Vox senior reporter Anna North.

Viral load is a puzzle in COVID-19

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

How sick a person gets from a virus can depend on how much of the pathogen that person was exposed to and how much virus is replicating in their body — questions that are still open for the novel coronavirus.

Why it matters: As people try to balance resuming parts of their daily lives with controlling their risk of COVID-19, understanding the role of viral load could help tailor public health measures and patient care.

Get Axios AM in your inbox

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!