Over the past year, lawmakers from Brussels to Washington have discussed whether and how to regulate social media platforms. In Germany, a central question has been whether such platforms—which Germans call social network providers (SNPs)—should be held liable if they fail to delete or remove illegal content.
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The Department of Justice submitted an unusual court filing in litigation over the release of the Carter Page FISA, arguing that the president's statements on Twitter concerning the Page FISA should not be assumed to be accurate or based on the president's personal knowledge of the underlying issue. The document, which was filed on Nov. 30 and first flagged by USA Today reporter Brad Heath, is available here and below.
When Michael Cohen first pleaded guilty back in August, the President of the United States declared that his former lawyer had, in fact, not committed campaign finance crimes:
Michael Cohen plead guilty to two counts of campaign finance violations that are not a crime. President Obama had a big campaign finance violation and it was easily settled!
On Thursday, Sept. 6, Twitter permanently banned the right-wing provocateur Alex Jones and his conspiracy theorist website Infowars from its platform. This was something of the final blow to Jones’s online presence: Facebook, Apple and Youtube, among others, blocked Jones from using their services in early August. Cut off from Twitter as well, he is now severely limited in his ability to spread his conspiracy theories to a mainstream audience.
Editor’s Note: Terrorists' use of the Internet in all its forms remains an important source of their power and influence. Michael Smith, an analyst focusing on jihadist influence operations, calls for a much more aggressive set of government policies and laws to push technology companies to do more for counterterrorism. Although many analysts contend technology companies have upped their game, Smith argues that there is far, far more to be done.
Editor’s Note: The call to take down terrorist-linked content on the Internet is both sensible and limited in its effectiveness. Terrorists use many different aspects of the Internet for many different purposes, and taking down propaganda and hostile accounts is not enough to stop the effectiveness of their strategies. Audrey Alexander and Bill Braniff, of GWU and Maryland respectively, call for a different approach. They argue for going after more portions of the terrorists' online ecosystem, expanding the campaign, and thinking more broadly about the problem.
Video and Testimony: House Intelligence Committee Russia Investigative Task Force Hearing with Social Media Companies
The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence held a hearing titled "Russia Investigative Task Force Hearing with Social Media Companies." Witnesses include:
Video and Testimony: Senate Intelligence Committee Hearing on Social Media Influence in the 2016 Elections
The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence held an open hearing of its Russia Investigative Task Force on "Social Media Influence in the 2016 Elections" at 9:30 a.m. EST on Nov. 1. The following social media executives testified:
Video and Testimony: Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing: 'Extremist Content and Russian Disinformation Online'
The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on "Extremist Content and Russian Disinformation Online: Working with Tech to Find Solutions" at 2:30 p.m. EST on Oct. 31. The hearing consisted of two panels.
The first panel included: