What Kennedy surely realized — and what Stretch, apparently, did not — is that Facebook had already effectively answered Kennedy’s question: the very act of investigating the accounts used by Russian intelligence entailed doing the sort of sleuthing that Kennedy wanted Stretch to say was possible. Facebook dived deep into an account by choice, came to understand everything about it, and then shut it down and delivered the results to Congress. It follows that Facebook could — not would, but could — do that to Senator Graham or anyone else.
To be clear, Stretch made clear that Facebook did this because the accounts in question had been deemed inauthenetic; that removed all of the external legal, internal policy, and business model limitations that would prevent Facebook from doing such forensic work to an individual account.
Still, Kennedy’s two lines of questions combined revealed the tech companies’ testimony for the paradox it was: on the one hand, their sheer scale means it is impossible to fully stamp out activities like Russian meddling; on the other, that same scale means they all have the most intimate information on nearly everyone.
I hope we continue to challenge technology companies just like we did oil, gas, power, telephone and insurance companies the last century. Technology companies are the most powerful on Earth and yet have zero oversight, regulations or laws to govern the kind of work they do. The power company has to go through a lot of red tape to simply move a piece of power-line and Facebook can run an analysis on 1 out of 3 people on earth and no one asks how or why.