Social media giants grilled on hate content
Facebook said that since last summer, it had deleted 30,000 pages, activities, and groups linked to what it called "militarised social movements."
In recent events in Washington, which saw a crowd burst into Congress, social network executives were grilled by MPs on the role their networks played. All said they wanted to do more to track extremist groups and content such as conspiracy theories. But none had any drastic new proposals to propose. Recently, the government has set strict new guidelines on how social media companies moderate content. Facebook said that since last summer, it had deleted 30,000 pages, activities, and groups linked to what it called "militarised social movements." “We have a 24-hour operation centre where we check for content from groups of people who may use militia-like language," said Facebook's vice president of global policy management, Monika Bickert.
She added: "We had teams that in the weeks leading up to the [events in Washington] were focused on understanding what was being planned and if it could be something that would turn into violence. We were in touch with law enforcement." Despite its efforts, according to a report from the Tech Transparency Project watchdog, half of all designated white nationalist groups had a presence on facebook last year. Julian Knight MP, who chairs the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, which also scrutinises big tech companies, asked Derek Slater, Google's global information policy officer, what it was doing to tackle theories of conspiracy. "Do you think that it would be wise for you to adopt a new policy where you kept money on your platforms in escrow prior to its distribution so that any cause in which disinformation to found to have taken place... you could perhaps withhold that money?" he asked.
Mr Slater responded that it was a "interesting idea" and that Google was always "re-evaluating its policies" but he did not make any commitment to the idea. Twitter was also asked by MPs on its decision to bar President Donald Trump indefinitely. Nick Pickles, the company's head of public policy planning, was asked if doing so undermined his insistence that it was a platform rather than a publisher. He said it was time to "move beyond" the discussion to a dialogue about whether social networks were effectively implementing their own laws. Asked why Mr. Trump had been barred while also allowing other politicians to "sabre-rattle" on his site, Mr. Pickles added: "This is the complexity and challenge of these issues, but moderation of content is generally not a good way to hold governments account.