Social Media Giants Questioned On Encouraging Hate Crimes

April 10, 2019 by Tom Ramstack
Companies could be hit with fines as high as 4 percent of annual revenue if they systematically fail to remove problematic content. (Dreamstime/TNS)

WASHINGTON – Democrats in Congress used a hearing Tuesday to criticize President Donald Trump and social media companies for encouraging white nationalism and hate crimes.

They cited FBI statistics showing hate crimes have increased since Trump took office in 2016.

“The president’s rhetoric fans the flames,” said Representative Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

Witnesses at the hearing testified about hate crimes against African Americans, Jews, Muslims, gays and others.

“Americans have died because of it,” Nadler said about white nationalism and hate crimes.

Lawmakers launched some of their complaints against social media giants like Facebook and Google. They said their failure to adequately screen hateful messages meant the Internet platforms could be used to organize white supremacists.

Representative David Cicilline, D-R.I., asked Facebook and Google executives to acknowledge they might have unintentionally promoted white nationalism.

He mentioned the example of ultra-conservative commentator Faith Goldy, who has asked her viewers to help “stop the white race from vanishing.” Facebook removed her from their website last week after what Cicilline described as an overly long delay.

“What specific proactive steps is Facebook taking to identify other leaders like Faith Goldy and preemptively remove them from the platform,” Cicilline asked.

Facebook director of public policy Neil Potts said, “There is no place for terrorism or hate on Facebook.”

The company uses mathematical algorithms that identify hateful messages and experts to review them.

“We remove any content that incites violence,” Potts said.

Evidence presented at the hearing included an FBI report in November showing hate crimes increased 17 percent between 2016 and 2017. In addition, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported that the number of hate groups has been increasing, reaching 1,020 last year.

Alexandria Walden, Google’s counsel for free expression and human rights, responded to a question about the statistics by saying, “Yes I am aware of all the research.”

She agreed Google and its subsidiary, YouTube, have a responsibility to screen out hate on the Internet.

However, social media representatives also say they must balance their duties to stop hate on the Internet against consumers’ rights to free speech.

Examples of white supremacist hate crimes lawmakers discussed included the Christchurch, New Zealand murders of 50 people at two mosques last month and the 2015 killing of nine African American church members in Charleston, South Carolina.

The hearing was being live-streamed on YouTube when it started. YouTube officials shut down the streaming video after 30 minutes as viewers started posting racist and anti-Semitic comments on the social media’s chat line.

The House Judiciary Committee chairman read some of the hateful comments during the hearing along with the online names of the persons who posted them. He said they showed why the committee was holding the hearing.

Some of the most emotional testimony came from Mohammad Abu-Salha, a Muslim whose two daughters and son-in-law were shot and killed in a hate crime in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in 2015.

He gave details of his daughters’ lives before the shootings. He also described how they were threatened and then murdered.

He said social media companies must stop “providing platforms and safe haven” for hate groups.

On Wednesday, a Republican-controlled Senate subcommittee plans to hold a hearing to discuss whether Facebook, Google and Twitter are biased against conservatives, President Donald Trump was one of the political leaders who made this allegation.


Government Agencies Make Progress Implementing Zero Trust
Government Agencies Make Progress Implementing Zero Trust
November 23, 2020
by Kate Michael

WASHINGTON — Zero Trust is an approach to the design and implementation of internet technology networks. This security concept developed out of the belief that organizations should not trust anything — either outside or inside — its perimeter. Therefore, everything must be verified before being granted... Read More

EU Auditors: Antitrust Probes Too Slow to Curb Tech Giants
European Union
EU Auditors: Antitrust Probes Too Slow to Curb Tech Giants

LONDON (AP) — The EU's efforts to rein in the power of big tech companies such as Google and Facebook through antitrust investigations have taken too long, dulling their effectiveness, a report said Thursday. Legal tools available to the bloc's competition regulators, meanwhile, have not kept... Read More

Schrier Helps Tribes Secure First-Ever Licenses to Expand Internet Access
Schrier Helps Tribes Secure First-Ever Licenses to Expand Internet Access
November 11, 2020
by Sean Trambley

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Kim Schrier, D-Wash., recently helped the Nisqually and the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation in her district fulfill a long time dream. They are two of eight tribes in the state to receive first-of-their-kind licenses for 2.5 GHz wireless broadband services. ... Read More

Bipartisan Policy Center Hosts MOCs on Rural Broadband, Telehealth Discussion
Bipartisan Policy Center Hosts MOCs on Rural Broadband, Telehealth Discussion
October 23, 2020
by Sara Wilkerson

This week, the Bipartisan Policy Center, a think tank based in Washington, D.C, hosted Reps. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J. and Dave Joyce, R-Ohio,  for a discussion of rural broadband access in connection with telehealth and education. The discussion was part of the American Congressional Exchange Program from... Read More

Senate Committee Seeks Subpoena Against Facebook and Twitter Leaders
Social Media
Senate Committee Seeks Subpoena Against Facebook and Twitter Leaders
October 22, 2020
by Tom Ramstack

WASHINGTON -- A Senate committee voted to subpoena the chief executives of Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. Thursday over what its chairman called censorship of information potentially embarrassing to presidential candidate Joe Biden. The social media giants limited the sharing of New York Post articles that... Read More

Google Monopoly Case by US Sets Stage for Multipronged Attack
Google Monopoly Case by US Sets Stage for Multipronged Attack

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Justice Department sued Alphabet Inc.'s Google in the most significant antitrust case against an American company in two decades, kicking off what promises to be a volley of legal actions against the search giant for allegedly abusing its market power. Google, which controls about 90% of the online... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top