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Friday
Sep072018

Tesla board needs 'come to Jesus' meeting with Elon Musk amid company turmoil: Expert

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Tesla shares were volatile Friday morning amid chaotic news for the embattled electric carmaker, leading one expert to say the company board needs to have a 'come to Jesus meeting' with Elon Musk.

Shares tumbled upon news of two senior executives leaving the company hours after founder and CEO Musk smoked marijuana and drank whiskey on a podcast interview. Midday, Tesla shares were trading 6.4 percent lower at $262.90, after having dropped 10 percent.

"It’s time for the board of directors to have a 'come to Jesus meeting' with Elon Musk," said William Klepper, a corporate governance expert who is a professor at Columbia Business School and author of "The CEO’s Boss: Tough Love in the Boardroom."

"The board can’t sit back and watch this destruction of value because of the uncertainty of behavior the CEO is presenting to the public. There’s not debate or question it’s Elon Musks’s company -- he’s the genius behind it. That doesn’t mean, if you’re publicly traded, that the board of directors is the cheerleading squad for the founder. They have other people’s money and have a responsibility to them," Klepper said.

Tesla did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

On Tuesday, Tesla Chief Accounting Officer Dave Morton announced after a month in his position that he was resigning from the company, effective immediately.

"Since I joined Tesla on August 6th, the level of public attention placed on the company, as well as the pace within the company, have exceeded my expectations. As a result, this caused me to reconsider my future. I want to be clear that I believe strongly in Tesla, its mission, and its future prospects, and I have no disagreements with Tesla’s leadership or its financial reporting," Morton said, as detailed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

The company has had a tumultuous year with executive turnover. In March, Morton's predecessor, Eric Branderiz, abruptly left. Less than a week later, Susan Repo, the company's treasurer and vice president of finance left for a different company. Chief Financial Officer Jason Wheeler quit in April after less than 17 months.

In addition, Musk faces an SEC probe regarding a possible violation of regulations after he mused in a tweet about taking the company private.

"Remember, particularly when you see this behavior -- possibly violating SEC regulations, remember Elon Musk is playing with other people's money. It's not his money. One thing you don't do is tweet you're going private and you have funding," Klepper said.

Tesla's head of human resources, Gabrielle Toledano, who is currently on a leave of absence, told Bloomberg News Friday morning that she would not return to Tesla.

Late Thursday night, Musk smoked marijuana and drank whiskey on a live streamed podcast interview with comedian Joe Rogan in Los Angeles, where marijuana is legal. During the interview, which lasted over two and a half hours, Musk discussed artificial intelligence, Tesla, robots and aliens in a wide-ranging chat with the comedian.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Sep072018

War of words between Airbnb and Paris official who warns of 'Uberised' city 

iStock/Thinkstock(PARIS) -- Paris is one of Airbnb’s biggest markets in the world, with about 65,000 homes listed on its website. But Ian Brossat, who’s in charge of housing at City Hall, takes no pride in such a distinction.

He has been the face of the fight against home-sharing platforms such as Airbnb in Paris. Indeed, Brossat is publishing this week a book called "Airbnb, or the Uberised City,” in which he discusses the action he has taken to regulate the sector.

In an interview with French newspaper Le Parisien Thursday, Brossat made a radical proposition: prohibiting the rental of entire apartments via Airbnb and other platforms in central Paris. Tourists would be able to rent a room in an apartment, for instance, but not the entire unit.

Some of the most popular sites in Paris such as the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Louvre Museum are located in these areas.

About 20,000 apartments have been transformed into short-term tourist rentals since the Airbnb boom in the French capital five years ago, according to City Hall.

Brossat argues that the U.S. company is forcing residents out of the French city because rents have increased significantly in tourist areas.

Strong measures are needed to keep the city from becoming an "open-air museum,” Brossat said.

"Do we want Paris to be a city which the middle classes can afford, or do we want it to be a playground for Saudi or American billionaires?" he told the French newspaper.

Airbnb France condemned Brossat’s proposition. "This scheme would steal opportunities from thousands of middle-class families to feed the wealthy hotel lobby and help protect its profits,” the company said in a statement.

“But while the Deputy Mayor uses his time in office to clamp down on opportunities for local families and write books that champion the views of the hotel lobby, Airbnb is building a platform that 1 in 5 Parisians use to travel the world, boost their income and afford rising living costs in their communities, where housing capacity has failed to meet demand for decades.” the statement added.

Paris officials have already taken action against Airbnb and other platforms, requiring residents who sublet their homes on Airbnb to obtain a registration number for each listed property. This measure was taken to adhere to a French rule that limits the number of rentals to 120 nights a year. Until now, the law punished landlords for illegal renting but not platforms. That is likely to change in the next few months.

A new law, supported by the French government, is being discussed in Parliament. The bill will introduce fines for platforms that don‘t remove illegal listings.

Fines could amount to $58,000 for such companies. Airbnb, for instance, could be fined if it publishes listings with no registration numbers.

Timothée de Roux, director of Homeaway France and president of an organization that represents Airbnb and similar services like his, said the sanctions included in the pending law go overboard.

“This bill is being added to many measures adopted recently that are very constraining for our sector,” he told ABC News. “I regret the stigmatization of our platforms. We largely contribute to the tourist attractiveness of France.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Sep062018

Lyft enters the scooter race by launching in Denver

Lyft(DENVER) -- Ride share company Lyft is entering the scooter arms race, marked by launching its scooter rental program in Denver on Thursday.

The company, which tries to differentiate itself from its competitors by stressing sustainability and social justice issues, is launching its two-wheeled vehicles later than its competitors. Early entrants into the scooter market moved stealthily into markets like San Francisco and Santa Monica, often before municipalities could craft regulation. As a result, cities like San Francisco responded with a ban, while making companies apply for permits for a pilot program.

This was not lost on Lyft.

"We’ve obviously taken time to look at what works well what doesn’t work so well," Caroline Samponaro, Lyft's Head of Bike, Scooter & Pedestrian Policy told ABC News. "We were looking for ways that Lyft could add value. We’re not just thinking about bikes and scooters, we're thinking about how to make multi-modal trips more possible for most people."

Multi-modal trips involve more than one kind of transportation.

"People think, 'If I ride a bike to work I have to ride a bike home,'" Samponaro said. "We can help piece together commutes in new ways. Forty percent of car trips in the U.S. are less than two miles. If we want to decrease congestion, bikes and scooters become amazing tools."

Denver was an ideal launch city because of its buses and light rail system already available as public transit, Samponaro said. Riders of either of those systems can get a discount on scooter and bike shares.

Lyft co-founders John Zimmer and Logan Green detailed their ambitions in a Medium post on July 16, stressing transportation equity and sustainability.

"Lyft Bikes and Scooters will be our most affordable transportation options, and will extend mobility to communities that have historically been underserved," the founders wrote in their post.

In addition to distributing scooters to such neighborhoods, Lyft personnel will collect and redistribute the scooters to communities more in need of transport options, Samponaro said. Although Denver does not have a helmet law, the company will give some away for free at the Lyft Hub at 1401 Zuni Street starting on Sept. 7 on Wednesdays and Fridays.

To rent a scooter through the Lyft app, you have to be 18. You scan your drivers license, and are charged a $1 unlock fee and then 15 cents per minute for a rental period for up to 30 minutes.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Sep062018

And the Oscar for 'popular film' goes to... no one in 2019, Academy says

Carlo Allegri/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Thursday that it will not present the Oscar for its proposed "popular film" category during February's ceremony after all.

One reason for the reversal is because the award category was proposed late in the year after many films had already been released, a press release from the Academy said,

The organization's Board of Governors will continue to consider the category, the release stated.

"There has been a wide range of reactions to the introduction of a new award, and we recognize the need for further discussion with our members,” Academy CEO Dawn Hudson said. “We have made changes to the Oscars over the years, including this year, and we will continue to evolve while also respecting the incredible legacy of the last 90 years.”

Academy Awards promise a leaner show, and a new Oscar category for popular movies

There were mixed reactions when the Academy first announced that it could be introducing a new "popular film" category in August, with some saying that it felt like "pandering." Still, there will be some changes implemented for the show in 2019, including a shorter, three-hour-long telecast, where six to eight categories will be presented during commercial breaks. Those moments will be edited and aired later in the broadcast, and, according to the Academy, the categories will be rotated each year.

The Academy did not specify why it's going to be implementing these changes, however, ratings seem to have played a key role. Ratings for the 2018 show were the lowest ever.

The Oscars will be held on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, and it'll be broadcast live on ABC.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Sep062018

How public school teachers are crowdfunding for supplies and 'dream' school projects

Courtesy Donors Choose(NEW YORK) -- Many public school teachers across the country are looking to go above and beyond to educate the next generation, and they're turning to DonorsChoose to raise money for school supplies and projects.

The non-profit crowdfunding website, which allows anyone to donate to projects posted by educators themselves, has funneled more than $730 million to teachers since 2000.

Click here for more information on how to find a classroom, project or teacher to support on DonorsChoose.org.

"About half the projects on our site are basics: paper, pencils, dictionaries, art supplies for an art teacher," DonorsChoose CEO Charles Best told ABC News' T.J. Holmes.

The other half of the projects are "dreams," Best added, such as "to take students to Washington, D.C., to do an incredible science experiment, to build a robot."

Jane Viau, a high school teacher at the Frederick Douglass Academy in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City, said she's raised "over $82,000 worth of resources that go directly into the hands" of her students.

"I want kids to come in and feel the energy and feel the brightness, and want to learn," she said.

Viau said the donors are from "all over the country," and for many teachers the site can be a major resource to fill funding gaps at a time when public school budgets are often tight.

Over three-quarters of her students come from low-income households, Viau added.

Without the resources and projects she was able to fund using DonorsChoose, "I don’t think the kids would have reached their full potential," Viau added. "They are hungry to learn, they're eager to learn. I want to instill in them that ability to persevere, and to not quit, and be determined, and have grit, and know that they can do hard stuff, because they can."

Viau just began her 17th year as a teacher. Before that, she worked on Wall Street as an investment banker. After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, she said she had a crisis of conscious, which led her into education.

"I sort of woke up, and I'm like ... 'Is this really what I want to be doing?'" she said. "I thought there's a whole world out there, there's a lot of good I can do, like how can I leave my mark on the world."

Shortly after, she found herself "in a classroom in Harlem teaching math," she said. "And that's what I've been doing very happily ever since."

Carlos James, one of Viau's former students, said he has been touched by the way strangers have shown that they care.

"Strangers coming out of their way to donate so an entire class can have a book," he said, "it opens up your eyes on like how much people really care about you."

Another former student of Viau's, Fati Fousseni, added that witnessing the generosity of donors "serves as an inspiration for me to give back if I can."

At least seven of her former students have gone on to give back, donating to projects at their old school.

Elsewhere across the country, public school teachers of all subjects have also shared how they have used the site to help make a difference in their community.

Music teacher Genein Letford at the New Academy Elementary school in Canoga Park, California, said she has had 54 projects funded on the site that include everything from buying musical instruments to taking students on college visits.

Elementary school teacher Damon Qualls from Greenville, South Carolina, said that after noticing many of the young boys in his class didn't have positive male role models, he turned to DonorsChoose to fund the "Men Who Read" program, which invites male community leaders to visit his students and read to them. He also raised money to buy his students blazers and ties.

Through DonorsChoose, educators across the country are making a difference in their communities and inspiring the next generation.

Viau called the strangers who support educational goals are "our angels."

"They help us create an oasis of hope in this room," she said, from her Harlem classroom. "When we come in this room, we know that anything is possible."

Click here for more information on how to find a classroom, project or teacher to support on DonorsChoose.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Sep062018

Warner Bros becomes the first major studio to embrace inclusion company-wide

Kevin Winter/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Months after Frances McDormand popularized the term "inclusion riders," Warner Bros became the first major studio to adopt a company-wide commitment to diversity and inclusion.

WarnerMedia, the parent company of Warner Bros, announced on Wednesday that the studio, along with its sister companies HBO and Turner, will launch the initiative with the film "Just Mercy," starring Michael B. Jordan.

The "Black Panther" star was one of the first actors to commit to using inclusion riders, which allow actors to require diversity in the cast and crew of a film production as part of their contracts.

The term went viral after Frances McDormand used it during her powerful acceptance speech after winning the best actress Oscar earlier this year. "I have two words to leave with you tonight, ladies and gentlemen: Inclusion rider," she said, concluding her speech.

A week later, Jordan announced that his company, Outlier Society Productions, would add inclusion riders on all future deals.

On Wednesday, the 31-year-old actor said on social media, "Inclusivity has always been a no-brainer for me, especially as a black man in this business. It wasn't until Frances McDormand spoke the two words that set the industry on fire — inclusion rider — that I realized we could standardize this practice."

He continued, "Earlier this year I formally pledged my production company, Outlier Society, to this way of doing business. And today, the @warnermediagroup family has announced a new policy that accomplishes our shared objectives. I applaud them for taking this enormous step forward and I’m proud that our film, 'Just Mercy,' — which begins production today — will be the first to formally represent the future we have been working toward, together."

He concluded his post with, "This is just the beginning..."

Oscar winners Brie Larson, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck have also committed to using inclusion riders.

But WarnerMedia is the first major entertainment company to establish a company-wide policy embracing the concept behind inclusion riders. In a statement, obtained by ABC News, the company said that it "pledges to use our best efforts to ensure that diverse actors and crew members are considered for film, television and other projects, and to work with directors and producers who also seek to promote greater diversity and inclusion in our industry."

The statement continued, "To that end, in the early stages of the production process, we will engage with our writers, producers and directors to create a plan for implementing this commitment to diversity and inclusion on our projects, with the goal of providing opportunities for individuals from under-represented groups at all levels. And, we will issue an annual report on our progress."

Stacy L. Smith, the founder of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at the University of Southern California, was the first to float the idea of inclusion riders at a TED conference in 2016, at which she presented a slew of "really depressing" facts about gender inequality in film.

"An equity rider by an A-lister in their contract can stipulate that those roles reflect the world in which we actually live," Smith during her TED Talk. "Now, there's no reason why a network, a studio or a production company cannot adopt the same contractual language in their negotiation processes."

Smith went on to explain the advantages of actors' pursuing riders, which she offered as a possible solution to the "inclusion crisis in Hollywood."

"The typical feature film has about 40 to 45 speaking characters in it. I would argue that only eight to 10 of those characters are actually relevant to the story," she added. "The remaining 30 or so roles, there's no reason why those minor roles can't match or reflect the demography of where the story is taking place."

Earlier this year, Smith released her latest report showing that there has been "no progress" for women on-screen over the last decade. An analysis of the top 100 films from 2017 found only 31.8 percent of the characters with dialogue were women -- about the same amount as it has been for the past 11 years.

Meanwhile, white men occupied more than twice the number of speaking roles as women in 2017.

"Even with the cacophony of voices crying out for inclusion and workplace safety... Hollywood hasn't really responded to the only thing that would create change," Smith told ABC News at the time of the study's release.

She cited hiring as the single best way to create parity. "Until those hiring practices change, none of these numbers are going to change," she said.

Warner Bros' announcement was greeted favorably by industry watchers.

"A studio taking the lead like this is a really strong indication that this is going to be something that is going to make them money and they also believe they are doing the right thing," Melissa Silverstein, the founder of the website Women and Hollywood, told ABC News.

Silverstein also applauded Jordan for being one of the first actors to come out strongly in favor of inclusion riders. "He pushed and that’s what you need," she said. "You need leaders to stand up and say this is what we’re going to do. It's no coincidence that the person that runs the (Warner Bros) studio is a person of color (Kevin Tsujihara)."

Hollywood, which is often slow to change is finally recognizing what audiences have been saying for some time: "the world has shifted, and they are saying that with their dollars," Silverstein said.

She pointed to the recent success of "Black Panther" and "Wonder Woman" and the current box-office leader "Crazy Rich Asians" as examples of diversity paying off at the box office.

"The days of the white-male protagonist being the only thing we have access to at the multiplex are over," she said. "And I will be happy when it also moves into the awards."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Sep062018

Coffee giant Starbucks to open first store in Italy, the home of espresso 

ABC News(MILAN) -- Starbucks is opening its first store in Italy, a bold effort to introduce an Americanized version of Italian coffee traditions.

The Starbucks Reserve Roastery, one of the chain's high-end stores, will be located in an historic building on a grand square in downtown Milan. The store will serve a range of Starbucks coffees familiar to foreigners, but only to Italians in name.

Starbucks describes the store as a showcase of "next-level coffee art and innovation."

Howard Schultz, the founder of Starbucks, has spoken about the "magic experiences of Milanese coffee houses" he had during a visit in 1983, after which he decided to replicate that coffee and café feeling around the world.

Starbucks stores can be found from Beijing to Buenos Aires, and in every large city in the U.S. But it is only now -- 47 years after the first coffee beans were roasted at Starbucks' first location in Seattle -- that Schultz has finally brought his coffee chain to Italy.

Last year at a global food summit, he told the audience that "his imagination was captured by Italian coffee" during that 1983 visit.

"We are coming to Italy with humility and respect to show what we have learned," Schultz said.

The Milan store will have 300 employees, known as "partners," who have received months of training as baristas, roasters and bakers.

There is skepticism that a glitzy store with couches and free Wi-Fi, where consumers are likely to linger, will be able to attract Italians used to their ritual of standing at a bar while drinking their coffees quickly before heading to work or school.

For locals, coffee is more than just a caffeine pick-me-up. It is a ritual of taking a quick pause, repeated a few times a day. Many huddle with colleagues while a barman prepares "the usual" drink.

Starbucks hopes that, by setting up shop in Milan, they can earn a piece of the country's lucrative coffee market.

The Italian catering industry group, Fipe, estimates that cafés and bars in Italy serve 6 billion espressos a year, generating about $7.5 billion dollars. On average, an espresso is roughly €1.00, or $1.15. Starbucks' unique coffees start at double that price.

But, coffee to go, iced coffee and flavored lattes go against traditional Italian coffee culture. The country's consumers are going to have to be convinced that their espresso -- a thimble-size shot of freshly made coffee served in a glass “tazzina,” or small cup -- can be replaced by one in a paper cup. The quality of the cup of coffee is scrutinized and discussed whether it is served at a gas station or fine restaurant.

"Pull off the highway at any Autogrill -- a gas station, basically -- and you will get a better cappuccino than at Starbucks," wrote Laura Giannatempo, a contributor to Conde Nast Traveler. "Most tourists want to taste the original, authentic Italian espresso, and Italians are not likely to seek it out, other than an oddity you sample once."

A key to the success of the new Milan store will be the employees helping to transition Italians from traditional coffee culture to Starbuck’s methods and products, according to Martin Brok, Starbucks president for Europe, Middle East and Africa.

"Those who are hired will be at the forefront of delivering this magic for our new Italian customers," he told prospective applicants.

They will also have to convince Italians to branch out in their coffee tastes to explore the flavored coffees and specialty drinks for which Starbucks is known.

John Henderson, an American journalist living in Rome, wrote for The Local that "if you walked into a rough-and-tumble bar in Rome and ordered 'an iced, half-calf, ristretto, venti, four-pump, sugar free, cinnamon, dolce soy skinny latte, you would get tossed out."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Sep052018

Miss America pageant begins for the first time sans swimsuit competition

Donald Kravitz/Getty Images(ATLANTIC CITY, N.J.) -- Two of the most iconic and controversial traditions will be missing when the preliminary competition for the Miss America pageant begins on Wednesday night: The swimsuit and evening gown competitions.

No longer will pageant hopefuls from all over the country be judged by their appearance -- whether in skin-baring bikinis or form-fitting evening wear, the organization announced in June.

Instead, the contestants will take part in a live interactive session with the judges, where they will be judged on their passion, intelligence and overall understanding of the job, the organization said.

Cara Mund, who was crowned last year while competing as Miss North Dakota, will be the last Miss America to have participated in the swimsuit and evening gown competitions.

The Miss America organization has been facing turmoil in recent months.

In December, former CEO Sam Haskell resigned after emails in which he insulted the appearance, intellect and personal lives of former pageant winners were leaked.

Mund, 24, also accused Miss America leadership of silencing and bullying her after she was crowned.

"Our chair and CEO have systematically silenced me, reduced me, marginalized me and essentially erased me in my role as Miss America in subtle and not-so-subtle ways on a daily basis," Mund wrote last month in a letter to past winners.

Gretchen Carlson, the first former Miss America to be named chair of the Board of Trustees of the Miss America Organization, responded to Mund on Twitter, saying that she has "never" bullied or silenced her and will "continue to support her."

The finals of the 2019 Miss America Competition airs live Sunday on ABC at 9 p.m. ET. "Dancing With the Stars" judge Carrie Ann Inaba will host the pageant.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Miss America pageant begins for the first time sans swimsuit competition

Wednesday
Sep052018

US adults changing the way they use Facebook: Study

Facebook(NEW YORK) -- Over half of adult U.S. Facebook users have changed the way they use the social media platform within the past year, according to a new study from the Pew Research Center. The survey was conducted following reports of election meddling and privacy breaches on the site.

Twenty-six percent of surveyed adults over the age of 18 have deleted the app from their phones, 42 percent have taken a break for at least several weeks, and 54 percent have adjusted their privacy settings in the past 12 months, according to the study, released Wednesday. The survey targeted users ages 18 and over, and was conducted from May 29 to June 11, after news that political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica had collected data from tens of millions of Facebook users before the 2016 presidential election.

The Pew survey was released as Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey testified at a congressional hearing on Wednesday about foreign influence via social media platforms and cybersecurity.

The Pew survey found that nearly identical numbers of Democrats and Republicans are changing the way that they use Facebook. "Republicans are no more likely than Democrats to have taken a break from Facebook or deleted the app from their phone in the past year," the survey report said.

Pew found that the biggest difference in how users treated Facebook came down to age. About 44 percent of users ages 18 to 29 reported that they have deleted the Facebook app from their phones within the last year, compared to 12 percent of users ages 65 and older. In addition, only a third of Facebook users 65 and older adjusted their privacy settings, compared to 64 percent of younger users.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Sep052018

Facebook, Twitter execs to face lawmakers over foreign influence operations

Paul Marotta/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Top executives from social media behemoths Facebook and Twitter are set to testify Wednesday before lawmakers about the ongoing threat of foreign influence operations on their platforms, as the shadow of possible Russian interference looms over the 2018 midterm elections.

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey are expected to answer questions from the Senate Intelligence Committee starting at 9:30 a.m. The committee wanted Larry Page, the Chief Executive Officer of Google’s parent company Alphabet, to testify as well, but the company insisted on sending a lower-level official, drawing the lawmakers’ ire. Instead, a spokesperson for the committee said they may just leave a chair empty next to Sandberg and Dorsey.

The hearing comes after Dan Coats, the Director of National Intelligence, said last month that Russia has continued to attempt the kinds of online influence operations it allegedly ran on the social platforms to spread false information and sow divisiveness ahead of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Over the last year, Facebook and Twitter have each launched public campaigns (and some not so public) to fight back against "inauthentic" accounts believed to be linked not only to Russia, but to other malicious actors like Iran.

In prepared testimony released by Facebook Tuesday, Sandberg said that Facebook was "too slow to spot" Russia’s purported influence operation and "too slow to act."

"That’s on us," she wrote. "This interference was completely unacceptable. It violated the values of our company and of the country we love."

Facebook, she said, is "investing heavily in people and technology to keep our community safe and keep our service secure," including doubling the number of people working on safety and security issues to 20,000. Sandberg said the company is making changes to its advertisement system, letting users know who paid for what, and is working to more efficiently identify false information.

Sandberg could also face questions related to concerns over Facebook users' privacy. Earlier this year Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before lawmakers in part to explain how the personal information of tens of millions of Facebook users ended up in the hands of the U.K.-based data firm Cambridge Analytica.

Though no Google representative is expected to testify as of this report, in a blog post Tuesday Google Senior Vice President for Global Affairs and Chief Legal Officer Kent Walker said he would still be in Washington to separately brief lawmakers on Google’s efforts and will be submitting written testimony to the Senate committee. "We believe that we have a responsibility to prevent the misuse of our platforms and we take that very seriously," said Walker, who has previously testified before the committee and was the official Google hoped to send again.

A spokesperson for Twitter declined to comment, but in past hearings Twitter officials have affirmed the gravity of the situation.

"We are troubled by reports that the power of Twitter was misused by a foreign actor for the purpose of influencing the U.S. presidential election and undermining public faith in the democratic process," Twitter General Counsel Sean Edgett told the committee November 2017. "The abuse of our platform to attempt state-sponsored manipulation of elections is a new challenge for us and one we are determined to meet."

Earlier this year the company said it was taking aggressive measures to combat inauthentic accounts.

Dorsey will follow the Senate hearing with another hearing that could be politically more contentious – an appearance before the House Energy and Commerce Committee that will specifically address Twitter’s "algorithms and content moderation." Twitter has been accused by some of suppressing conservative voices on the platform -- which the company denied in July.

In prepared remarks released Tuesday by the Energy and Commerce Committee, Dorsey said his company "does not use political ideology to make any decisions, whether related to ranking content on our service or how we enforce our rules."

"We believe strongly in being impartial, and we strive to enforce our rules impartially," he said.

Both hearings will also give lawmakers their latest chance to show their own mastery of the technological material and brush off some criticism that followed the April hearing with Zuckerberg in which some Senators didn’t seem to understand some basics about the social network.

Laura Rosenberger, the Director of the Alliance for Securing Democracy at the German Marshall Fund, told ABC News that likely won’t be a problem for the Senate Intelligence Committee, as that committee in particular has been "steeped in understanding the challenges posed by foreign interference." Rosenberger, who testified before the same committee on foreign influence on social media last month, said she has "every expectation that [the hearing] will be serious from the lawmakers’ side."

"What I hope to see from the two executives who are appearing before the committee is a similar seriousness and transparency and a focus on recognizing that while they may have taken steps, this is an ongoing problem and much remains to be done," Rosenberger said.

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