Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are still not where they need to be to reassure lawmakers that they are securing US democracy, the Senate Commerce Committee found.
Representatives from the social media giants met with the committee at a hearing titled Terrorism and Social Media: #IsBigTechDoingEnough? to discuss the steps they are taking to combat the spread of extremist propaganda on the site. Much of the questioning centered around what the platforms were doing to prevent adversaries using fake accounts or paid-for advertising to influence elections, as is believed to have happened in 2016.
Facebook and Twitter both outlined steps they had taken to strengthen policies, but lawmakers did not seem convinced that it was enough to prevent meddling in the 2018 mid-term elections. Monika Bickert, Facebook’s Product Policy and Counterterrorism head, explained how it had grown it’s team of counterterrorism experts to 180 people and how in the first half of 2017, it responded to more than 75% of the information requests it received from US law enforcement agencies. Carlos Monje Jr Twitter’s director of public policy and philanthropy for the U.S. and Canada, testified that the platform had launched a retrospective review into what happened in the 2016 election, and that it is researching elections and civic engagement on Twitter.
Lawmakers still expressed concerns though, with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii saying: “You’re not where you need to be for us to be reassured that you’re securing our democracy,”
Clint Watts, a cyber warfare specialist at the Foreign Policy Research Institute added that the additional content monitoring still fails to detect what hasn’t been seen before.