(BIVN) – Attorneys for social media giants were on the hot seat Tuesday in Washington.
Facebook, Google, and Twitter representatives were questioned by senators on October 31 concerning “Extremist Content and Russian Disinformation Online.”
Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono participated in the Judiciary Committee hearing.
“The purpose of today’s hearing is to gather information regarding activity by foreign governments and terrorist organizations to manipulate popular social media sites in order to undermine our national security,” said U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism of the Senate Judiciary Committee, ahead of the hearing. “It is well documented that radical Islamic terrorist groups regularly use popular social media outlets to recruit Americans and individuals throughout the world to their cause. It has become equally clear that foreign governments like Russia – in the 2016 election cycle – were deeply involved in manipulating popular social media websites with misinformation to sow discord among Americans. Today’s hearing is designed to explore the depth of the problem to determine whether or not legislative solutions are necessary and can be constructed consistent with our Constitution and values. Equally important is to make sure that the social media platforms are doing everything possible to combat these growing concerns. Clearly, to date, their efforts have been unsuccessful.”
“The manipulation of social media sites by terrorist organizations and foreign governments is one of the greatest challenges to American democracy and a significant threat to our national security in the 21st century,” Graham said.
“I think when we start with the word Russian, fake, trolls, bots, so forth, we know the starting point is a trigger – something needs to be done. The second thing we know is if it includes a reference to a political candidate or a party, then it’s in a category two of electioneering. And then the third question gets into what you characterize in this case as vile content. How are you going to sort this out consistent with the basic values of this country when it comes to freedom of expression?” U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) asked Colin Stretch, Vice President and General Counsel at Facebook.