Facebook's General Counsel to Testify to Congress in Russia Probe

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By Jonathan Allen

WASHINGTON — Facebook's general counsel, Colin Stretch, will testify before the House and Senate intelligence committees in open hearings Nov. 1 as part of the congressional investigation into Russia's use of technology to try to interfere with the 2016 presidential election, a Facebook spokesperson told NBC News.

Google and Twitter executives are also expected to testify before the panels that day, according to a source familiar with the hearings. Word of Stretch's assignment comes the week after Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg met with leading members of Congress, playing the role of ambassador to Capitol Hill for a social media giant that found itself in the center of a political maelstrom.

The company has been trying to show that it is cooperating with congressional requests for information — including giving lawmakers ads bought by Russian interests to and being the first of the platforms to confirm the identify of a witness.

Stretch will be the only Facebook witness, meaning Sandberg and Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg will avoid the spectacle of raising their right hands and swearing oaths before television cameras.

The company has given the intelligence panels 3,000 ads and data on how they were targeted to consumers.

Sandberg told lawmakers last week that Facebook would turn over Russia-related "organic" content — posts from users — in addition to the ads it already had furnished.

Jo Ling Kent contributed.