In the wake of the horrific terrorist attacks carried out by Hamas against Israel, U.S. Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Ranking Member Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and Commerce Committee Republican Members today sent a letter to companies X, Meta, TikTok, and Google seeking information on their content moderation policies during the Israel-Hamas war, and asking the companies to commit to fully preserving a documentary history of Hamas’s atrocities.
“Many of the horrors perpetrated by Hamas have been documented in real-time on social media platforms, including by victims, the media, the Israeli government, and the terrorists themselves. While steps should be taken to curb attempts by Hamas to weaponize social media for its own ends, it is indisputable that social media platforms have already played a critical role in exposing the international community to the genocidal atrocities committed against Israel. Much of this content is graphic and violent, and under normal circumstances it might be removed under your company’s content policies,” the senators wrote.
“We believe it is imperative that we preserve a full documentary history of Hamas’s atrocities. Ordinarily policies limiting the distribution of disturbing content might make sense, but videos and images uploaded by soldiers, law enforcement, citizens, journalists, and those with real time access to acts of terrorism need to be preserved to aid in prosecuting war crimes, intelligence gathering, media reporting, and the historical record. The role of social media in documenting war crimes and chronicling what happens in times of war is relatively new but highly consequential. Google has a responsibility not to permanently delete any of this content but to preserve it in such a way that the public record and historical record can accurately document the horrific atrocities being carried out,” the senators continued.
In order to understand these platforms’ approach to moderating content from the Israel-Hamas war, including acts of terrorism carried out by Hamas, the Senators requested a number of pieces of information, including content policies relevant to the dissemination of content from the Israel-Hamas War, including any updates and exceptions, data related to the number of pieces of content that have been removed systematically without human review, and an explanation of how these policies are affected by international laws.
The Senators are also asking how these companies are complying with sanctions programs that require the blocking of property or interests of Hamas, specifically how these companies are preventing their platforms from being used to provide material support to Hamas.
U.S. Senators John Thune (R-S.D.), JD Vance (R-Ohio), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Ted Budd (R-N.C.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.)
Read the full text of the letters here.