(New York, NY) – The Counter Extremism Project (CEP) today issued the following statement ahead of Facebook Chief Operating Officer (COO) Sheryl Sandberg’s and Twitter Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Jack Dorsey’s appearances before the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee:
“In advance of today’s hearing, Facebook and other companies conveniently uncovered Iran’s ‘influence operations’ on their sites. The investigation and so-called success received broad media coverage – a tactic that has become typical for the tech industry, which has also promoted its removal of extremist and terrorist material surrounding an impeding public hearing,” said CEP Executive Director David Ibsen. “Tech’s PR spin cycle is obvious: issue statements of success, make promises before lawmakers, do the very minimum and wait for public pressure to subside. For example, in April, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Congress that the company needed to ‘do more’ to prevent the incitement of genocide in Myanmar on its platform, but it was only last week that Facebook finally managed to ban several Myanmar military officials who have spread hate and misinformation. The fact that the industry maintains this approach, instead of sincerely addressing concerns from American officials, is astounding and explains why a broad consensus is emerging globally that tech must be regulated to ensure the safety of citizens and the integrity of democracy. Moreover, Google/YouTube’s failure to appear before these U.S. Senate and House Committees is indicative of tech’s lack of seriousness on the matter.
“The Counter Extremism Project calls upon members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to hold these tech companies accountable for their previous promises as well as demand transparency and concrete commitments from the executives testifying today. Facebook and Twitter have terms of service that dictate what content and behavior is permitted on their platforms. Clearly, those terms are not being enforced. U.S. lawmakers should resist tech’s attempts to mange them via multi-billion-dollar lobbying and PR efforts.”