Facebook’s Monika Bickert, YouTube’s Juniper Downs and Twitter’s Carlos Monje will testify today at the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee to explain how their company’s profit from terror groups using their platforms. The hearing, Terrorism and Social Media: #IsBigTechDoingEnough? at 10 am ET today.
As Ranking Member Senator Bill Nelson noted, the hearing is the first time that all three of Facebook, Google and Twitter have deigned to appear before the Commerce Committee at the same time:
[T]heir appearance is long overdue. These social media platforms – and those of many other smaller companies – have revolutionized the way Americans communicate, connect and share information.
But, at the same time, these platforms have created a new – and stunningly effective – way for nefarious actors to attack and harm our citizens and our nation. Frankly, it is startling that today, a terrorist can be radicalized and trained to conduct attacks all through social media. And then a terrorist cell can activate that individual to conduct an attack through the internet – creating in effect a terrorist drone controlled by social media.
I look forward to hearing from our witnesses about what their companies are doing to make sure their platforms are not being exploited and manipulated by terrorists and criminals.
Using social media to radicalize and influence users is not limited to extremists. Nation states, too, are exploiting social media vulnerabilities to conduct campaigns against this nation and interfere with our democracy.
We know that Russian hackers—at Vladimir Putin’s direction—attempted to influence the 2016 presidential election through cyberattacks and spreading propaganda and disinformation through paid social media trolls and botnets on Facebook and Twitter.
And, we also know that Putin is likely to do it again.
In its January 6, 2017 assessment, the U.S. intelligence community said that Putin and his intelligence services see the election influence campaign as a success and will seek to influence future elections, right here in the United States, and abroad.
This should be a wake-up call to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and to all Americans, regardless of party. This was an attack on the very foundation of American democracy and we must do everything in our power to see that it never happens again.
It would be interesting if Senator Nelson could ask Facebook, Google and Twitter if they could run a quick tape to tell the people how much they made, give or take, on selling ads against terror recruiting videos.