Facebook, Google and Twitter and other technology companies are being asked to hand over records on efforts to overturn the 2020 election and the deadly Capitol attack.
The House Select Committee is seeking records on policy changes social media companies made, or failed to make, to address the spread of misinformation, violent extremism and foreign influence, including decisions to ban content.
Records of contacts with law enforcement and intelligence agencies are also being sought.
Google said it was “committed to working with Congress on this.”
“The events of January 6 were unprecedented and tragic, and Google and YouTube strongly condemn them,” the company said in a statement to USA TODAY. “We’re committed to protecting our platforms from abuse, including by rigorously enforcing our policies for content related to the events of January 6.”
Facebook said it looked forward “to continuing to work with the committee.” Twitter declined to comment.
►TikTok bans ‘milk crate challenge’ cites concerns over dangerous acts
►Twitter blocked Trump’s tweets They spread anyway
The request for materials dating back to the spring of 2020 highlights the central role social media platforms played on Jan. 6 when a rally over former President Donald Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud led to the storming of the Capitol.
Hundreds of people were arrested, many of whom were identified by photos, videos and posts on social media.
“The Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol is examining the facts, circumstances, and causes of the attack and relating to the peaceful transfer of power, in order to identify and evaluate lessons learned and to recommend corrective laws, policies, procedures, rules, or regulations,” Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., wrote.
The other social media companies the panel is targeting are 4chan, 8kun, Gab, Parler, Reddit, Snapchat, Telegram, theDonald.win, TikTok, Twitch and Zello.
“As we are a free to use online publishing platform, it is inevitable that criminal actors will seek to abuse our services, as indeed they abuse all online services,” Gab CEO Andrew Torba said in an email to users. “We work hard to ensure that our services are denied to these bad actors.”
“We look forward to getting in touch with the Committee in the coming weeks,” he added.
Seven Democrats and two Republicans sit on the committee which was formed by House Democrats after a Jan. 6 independent commission was blocked in the Senate by Republicans.
Shortly before its first hearing, Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., denied two Republican nominations to the committee, Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, over their votes to contest the 2020 election.
Facebook-Meta Earns the ‘Worst Company of 2021’ Title in This Survey
Facebook parent Meta has been named the Worst Company of the Year (2021) by Yahoo Finance respondents. According to the publication, an “open-ended” survey was published on Yahoo Finance on December 4 and 5, where 1,541 respondents participated. Facebook received 8 percent of the write-in vote, but respondents were seemingly mad about the Robinhood trading app as well. Electric truck startup Nikola, which was named last year’s worst company by the same publication also faced respondents ire.
Yahoo Finance even highlights, “At the same time, some critics, including conservatives, say Facebook over-policed the platform’s speech and stifled their voices.” Critics also blame Facebook and other social media platforms for not curbing hate speech that led to Capitol Building riots.
However, around 30 percent of Yahoo Finance readers said that Facebook or Meta could redeem itself. One respondent suggested that the company could issue a formal apology for negligence and donate a sizable amount of its profits to a foundation to help reverse its harm.
On the other hand, respondents chose Microsoft as the Company of the Year (2021). The Satya Nadella-led company touched the trillion-mark this year and introduced notable upgrades. The most notable is the Windows 11 OS update that succeeds Windows 10.
Facebook pays 1.7 Cr fine to Russia after failing to delete content Moscow deems illegal
In the latest legal tussle with Russia over controversial social media regulation laws, Facebook paid 17 million roubles (Rs 1.7 Crore) for failing to remove content deemed illegal by Moscow. With a threat of potential larger fines looming, Facebook parent company Meta, owned by Mark Zuckerberg, is scheduled to face court next week over repeated violations of Russian legislation on content, Interfax News Agency reported. As per the latest updates, the social media giant could be fined a percentage of its annual revenue.
In October, Moscow sent state bailiffs to enforce the collection of 17 million roubles. Meanwhile, as per Interfax report citing a federal bailiffs’ database, on Sunday, there were more enforcement proceedings against the company. Apart from the popular social media app, Telegram has also paid 15 million roubles in fines for failing to comply with the Russian social media legislations that came into force in 2016.
Facebook pays $53k to Russia for refusing controversial social media laws
It is pertinent to mention that Facebook has locked horns with Moscow earlier in November, resulting in it paying 4 million roubles ($53,000) over its refusal to adhere to Russian data localisation laws, the Moscow Times reported. The Moscow court on November 25 had said that Facebook paid the fine levied in February, following which all proceedings against the US-based social media giant. The payment comes against the litigation filed against the company in 2018, alongside Twitter. The tech companies were also forced to pay an additional 3000 rubles ($40) for failing to comply with user data sharing rules as per the law. The Russian authorities have also previously blocked LinkedIn, owned by Microsoft, for failing to abide by the laws.
Russian social media laws
As per Moscow Times, under the Russian social media regulation laws, all foreign technology companies are required to store data related to Russian customers and users on servers located in Russia. Additionally, the Russian tech companies will also have to share encryption data with the federal authorities as well as record user calls, messages and civil society group conversation records. The apparatus is said to be a severe breach of privacy rights and unfettered back-door access to personal data that could be used to harass Kremlin critics.
Facebook Messenger Is Launching a Split Payments Feature for Users to Quickly Share Expenses
Meta has announced the arrival of a new Split Payments feature in Facebook Messenger. This feature, as the name suggests, will let you calculate and split expenses with others right from Facebook Messenger. This feature essentially looks to bring an easier method to share the cost of bills and expenses — for example, splitting a dinner bill with friends. Using this new Split Payment feature, Facebook Messenger users will be able to split bills evenly or modify the contribution for each individual, including their own.
The company took to its blog post to announce the new Split Payment feature in Facebook Messenger. 9to5Mac reports that this new bill splitting feature is still in beta and will be exclusive to US users at first. The rollout will begin early next week. As mentioned, it will help users share the cost of bills, expenses, and payments. This feature is especially useful for those who share an apartment and need to split the monthly rent and other expenses with their mates. It could also come handy at a group dinner with many people.
With Split Payments, users can add the number of people the expense needs to be divided with and, by default, the amount entered will be divided in equal parts. A user can also modify each person’s contribution including their own. To use Split Payments, click the Get Started button in a group chat or the Payments Hub in Messenger. Users can modify the contribution in the Split Payments option and send a notification to all the users who need to make payments. After entering a personalised message and confirming your Facebook Pay details, the request will be sent and viewable in the group chat thread.
Once someone has made the payment, you can mark their transaction as ‘completed’. The Split Payment feature will automatically take into account your share as well and calculate the amount owed accordingly.
Tasneem Akolawala is a Senior Reporter for Gadgets 360. Her reporting expertise encompasses smartphones, wearables, apps, social media, and the overall tech industry. She reports out of Mumbai, and also writes about the ups and downs in the Indian telecom sector. Tasneem can be reached on Twitter at @MuteRiot, and leads, tips, and releases can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.