U.S. Senator Michael Bennet has called on tech giants Meta, X, TikTok, and Google to provide insights into their efforts to combat the proliferation of false and misleading content concerning the Israel-Hamas conflict on their platforms. In his letter to the company leaders, Bennet expressed concern about deceptive content spreading across social media platforms since the onset of the conflict, sometimes garnering millions of views. This misleading content includes visuals from previous conflicts, video game footage, and manipulated documents. Bennet emphasized that the algorithms of these platforms have amplified such content, contributing to a cycle of anger, engagement, and further distribution.
Bennet’s inquiry follows European Union industry chief Thierry Breton’s criticism of these companies, urging them to take more rigorous measures against disinformation amid the escalating conflict. In his letter, Bennet posed several questions about the content moderation practices of the companies and requested responses by October 31.
While the social media companies have taken certain actions in response to the conflict, Bennet believes that these actions are insufficient. He argued that the substantial volume of false content underscores the inadequacy of the companies’ existing policies and protocols. Bennet also criticized the four firms for reducing staff in their trust and safety teams over the past year, teams responsible for monitoring false and misleading content. For example, Twitter cut 15% of its trust and safety staff and dissolved a related council in November 2022. Meta eliminated 100 similar positions in January, and Google reduced a third of the team dedicated to countering online hate speech and disinformation.
Bennet contended that such decisions contribute to a global atmosphere of violence, paranoia, and mistrust and create an information ecosystem where fundamental facts are increasingly disputed, while unreliable sources are repeatedly regarded as authoritative.