Google plays hard to get with Congress
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Google plays hard to get with Congress

Last Wednesday saw Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey speak at a hearing before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence about social media companies and foreign influence in the U.S. Beside them was an empty chair with the nametag “Google”. After days of speculation, the company had decided not to send Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO, to take part in the discussion.

Google’s share price has risen by 12% so far this year

graph 1009 google

SOURCE: Yahoo Finance

Rather than send its CEO, Google offered up Kent Walker, its senior vice president of global affairs. The senate said no, and Google’s resultant no-show did not go down well. Senator Richard Burr said “I’m disappointed that Google decided against sending the right senior level executive to participate in what I expect to be a productive discussion.”

The Committee’s chairman, Senator Mark Warner, echoed these sentiments, saying: "Google has an immense responsibility in this space. Given its size and influence, I would have thought the leadership at Google would want to demonstrate how seriously it takes these challenges."

Google’s YouTube is a sort-of social media, sort-of streaming site. On the one hand, it’s a platform for watching videos, but the constant uploading of user-generated content makes its position a little blurry. As many as 18% of Americans say YouTube is their first source of news. Recently, Google received plaudits for cancelling a number of accounts on the site with connections to Iran. The company has also been targeted by Donald Trump as a “biased” source of information – specifically, in relation to him – claims that were almost instantly revealed to be false by numerous online publications.

Many observers are questioning the sensibility of Google’s unwillingness to participate – however, as Mark Zuckerberg’s last appearance before lawmakers demonstrated, sometimes silence is the best policy.

Disclosure

Dominion holds Alphabet, the parent company of Google, in its Global Trends Managed Fund.


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