This just in from the Department of Pot and Kettle: Democrats blame Russian bots for stirring racial hatred in America.
Two black members of Congress are promising to bring the hammer down on Twitter with Big Government regulation unless the platform cracks down on problematic speech, which they call “racially divisive communications.” Also, the Russians are somehow involved.
In a letter addressed to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on Tuesday, Democratic Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman and Emanuel Cleaver claimed that the social media platform is being “used for the purpose of propagating hate and undermining democracy.”
“It was recently reported that Twitter uncovered hundreds of accounts that were tied to Russian operatives and automated bots, disseminating ads to exploit political and social divisions in the United States,” they wrote.
Unable to differentiate Twitter from that other big social media platform, Facebook, the lawmakers confused the two platforms by blaming Twitter for political ads that were instead present on Mark Zuckerberg’s much larger website.
Twitter noted in an announcement last week that only 22 of the 450 reported accounts on Facebook had corresponding accounts on Twitter, all of which were already banned for violating its rules against spam. The company acted against additional accounts tied to the spam bots. None of them were registered as advertisers.
Coleman and Cleaver expressed disdain for Twitter users’ willingness to exercise their First Amendment right to free speech, stating that they found it “troubling to learn that Twitter has become a platform where people feel comfortable sharing racist ideologies.” They claimed that the expression of problematic speech contributed to the violence in Charlottesville, N.C. in August.
“While we acknowledge that Twitter can be a powerful tool to bring about positive information sharing, we are exceptionally concerned that Twitter is also being used as an avenue to spread racism and bigotry,” stated the Democrats. “As a result of the far-reaching nature of Twitter’s technology, we have seen an effort to undermine our democracy, create or fan flames of racial divisions, and spread hate speech that can ultimately cumulate into violence.”
The lawmakers also expressed concern about Twitter and the rest of the social media industry’s supposed “silence” in dealing with foreign agents whom they believe to have manipulated the platform “to advance anti-American sentiments that both exacerbates racial tension and ultimately threatens our democracy.”
They called the industry’s silence in dealing with foreign agents, whom they believe to have manipulated the platform to advance racism in the United States, to be very “disappointing.” They claimed that the consequence to inaction is “quite literally life threatening,” and urged Twitter to outline its handling of “racially divisive communications.”
Coleman and Cleaver concluded the letter by expressing concern about a lack of government oversight, and promised to make it a government matter unless Twitter steps up its censorship game.
“If Twitter continues to prove unable or hesitant to grasp the seriousness of this threat and combat the racialized climate that is being stimulated on your platforms, we, as Members of Congress, will be left with little option but to demand for increased regulations and government oversight of this industry to address these problems,” they wrote.
Feature Image via Pixabay and Creative Commons License