×

Tech companies are 'soul searching' in the wake of Russia meddling, former Twitter CEO says

  • Facebook, Twitter and Google are still struggling to fully understand the scope of the Russian disinformation campaign and publicly promising to be better.
  • Former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo says any increase of security efforts would be unlikely to affect profitability.

If Russian interference on internet platforms isn't affecting tech's bottom line, it doesn't mean executives at Facebook, Twitter and Google aren't concerned about it.

"There's an extraordinary amount of soul searching inside these companies about what's happened," former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" on Thursday.

Revelations of Russian meddling on Facebook, Twitter and Google have put the tech giants on their heels, still struggling to fully understand the scope of the foreign campaign and publicly promising to be better.

Costolo said internal debates have sprung up around where and how to deploy resources. Facebook said this week it would double its staff devoted to safety and security — to 20,000.

"These things are always an arms race," Costolo said. "There's already an extraordinary amount of money spent on security, abuse and spam inside these companies."

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Wednesday the company was prioritizing security over profits — a declaration Costolo said was likely more about optics than anything else.

"They've done a pretty good job of nailing down maximizing profits and so they can move onto some of the other issues they're facing," he said.

Costolo said any increase in security efforts would be unlikely to affect Facebook's profitability. He anticipated that much of the increased security would result from redirecting existing resources.

Facebook, Twitter and Google sent representatives to Capitol Hill this week where they were grilled by members of Congress on their inaction and inability to contain the foreign threat.