09.25.21

Sen. Peters presses social media CEOs over efforts to monitor, remove extremist and conspiracy content

In letters to the CEOs of three of the top social media sites — Facebook, Twitter and Youtube — United States Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) pressed for information this week on respective policies for monitoring and removing both extremist and conspiratorial content posted online.

“Online platforms continue to be used to fundraise, recruit, organize, train, and plan for acts of domestic terrorism, including in the lead up to the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol,” Peters, chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said. “According to the FBI and intelligence officials, domestic terrorism is currently the most deadly national security threat. Social media companies must be more transparent about how domestic terrorists take advantage of these platforms in ways that put Americans at risk. As part of my investigation, I am seeking information from social media companies about their efforts to address the spread of violent extremist content, including how their own tools to encourage user engagement, target ads and generate revenue may contribute to the amplification of dangerous and radicalizing content.”

Peters recognized that all three companies reached out to as part of this investigation have taken steps to clamp down on the rise of domestic extremist content online. However, he charged that these efforts have not gone far enough, given that reports continue to indicate violent groups are operating freely on the platforms, including through the spread of targeted ads. Such groups include white supremacists, anti-government organizations and conspiracy theorists.

While social media’s involvement in such matters has been debated for years, it was put under a microscope following the events of Jan. 6, 2021, when extremist supporters of former President Donald Trump attempted to storm the U.S. Capitol and overturn the results of the presidential election, in an event that had been organized, in large part, through social media.

Continued incidents raise concerns as to social media companies’ efforts and willingness to address extremist content on their platforms, according to Peters. Therefore, his investigation is also analyzing the companies’ content prioritization algorithms and targeted advertising tools, combined with the amplification of extremist content and resulting advertising revenue for the companies.


By:  Chris Galford
Source: Homeland Preparedness News