RELEASE: Gottheimer, Bacon, ADL, Announce New Action to Combat Terrorists & Disinformation on Social Media, China Owned-TikTok

China, Russia, Iran, Hamas Spreading Disinformation on Israel. Joined on Press Call by Chair of the Select Committee on the CCP Rep. Mike Gallagher. Bipartisan Call for DOJ to Force TikTok to Register as a Foreign Agent. Social Media is Breeding Ground for Terrorist Sympathizers.

Nov 08, 2023
Press

Above: Reps. Gottheimer, Bacon, and Gallagher, and ADL CEO and National Director Jonathan Greenblatt.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, November 8, 2023, U.S. Representatives Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), Don Bacon (NE-2), and Mike Gallagher (WI-8), Chair of the Select Committee on the CCP, and Anti-Defamation League (ADL) CEO and National Director Jonathan Greenblatt held a press call on action to combat terrorists and disinformation on social media, including China-owned TikTok.

Since Hamas terrorists invaded Israel and brutally murdered, raped, burned alive, decapitated, and kidnapped 1,400 innocent babies, children, women, men, and elderly, including Americans, social media organizations have failed to stop the spread of disinformation.

Gottheimer and Bacon are introducing the bipartisan Stopping Terrorists Online Presence and Holding Accountable Tech Entities Act, known as the STOP HATE Act, to help stop terrorism and disinformation on social media and online. This legislation is supported by ADL.

Gottheimer and Bacon are also calling on the Department of Justice to require TikTok to register as a foreign agent under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). China is using TikTok as a propaganda machine to influence Americans and collect our data. They are also demanding answers to why the DOJ has not forced Al Jazeera’s subsidiary and social media platform, AJ+, to be registered as a foreign agent.

In 2018, Gottheimer and a bipartisan group of lawmakers wrote to the DOJ asking for Al Jazeera’s subsidiary and social media platform, AJ+, to be registered as a foreign agent. The DOJ ordered AJ+, to register as a foreign agent citing its engagement in “political activities” on behalf of Qatar’s government. However, to date, despite the DOJ order, neither Al Jazeera nor AJ+ have registered under FARA.

Read the bipartisan letter to Secretary Garland here.

The Stopping Terrorists Online Presence and Holding Accountable Tech Entities Act, known as the STOP HATE Act, will:

  • Require social media companies to release detailed reports of violations to their terms of service and how they are addressing violations, which includes using their platforms for terrorist purposes. 
  • Every day social media companies don’t comply, it will result in a $5 million fine.
  • Require the Director of National Intelligence to provide a report on the use of social media by terrorist organizations. 

China-owned TikTok and social media platforms are spreading hate and disinformation:

  • The ADL has reported that social media platforms are struggling to prevent hate and harassment from proliferating by:
  • Failing to deal with niche or emerging hateful terms and acronyms,
  • Inadequately enforcing against dehumanizing and stereotyping language,
  • Having difficulty moderating video and image content.
  • Failing to curb influential accounts’ use of tools, such as promoted posts, to amplify harmful content.
  • A recent TikTok video, seen by more than 300,000 users, promoted conspiracy theories about the origins of the Hamas attacks, including false claims that they were orchestrated by the media. 
  • There was a Twitter post viewed more than 20,000 times purporting to show Israelis staging civilian deaths for cameras.

“The content on social media platforms, especially on China-owned TikTok, is being used by Russia, China, and Iran as a tool of terror, propaganda, and disinformation to influence Americans, especially younger Americans. Using TikTok, China has the ability to control what an entire generation of kids sees and consumes every single day,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “It’s time to put an end to these online weapons of terror. This is about protecting our national security from adversaries who want to do harm to America’s standing as the leader of the free world.”

“It is troubling that an app owned by the Chinese Communist Party is able to spoon-feed propaganda to our children,” said Congressman Don Bacon (NE-2). “When our students and young people are openly supporting Hamas, we have to look to the source of the propaganda, and multiple signs point to TikTok. As a Colonel in Iraq, I saw Al-Qaeda utilize social media for fundraising and recruitment. We cannot ignore the ways social media is used to radicalize people.”

“A significant majority of Americans have reported encountering hate and misleading information online, including content associated with Hamas – a designated terrorist organization. Now, more than ever, transparency and accountability are needed to understand how exactly social media platforms are protecting users from the proliferation of content at the hands of designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations. That is why I applaud Congressman Gottheimer and Congressman Bacon’s work to introduce the Stopping Terrorists Online Presence and Holding Accountable Tech Entities (STOP HATE) Act. This legislation represents another step towards holding tech companies accountable for their efforts to curb content that violates their own policies. It is essential that we gain insight into the policies platforms employ to mitigate content from designated terrorists, as well as the metrics used to gauge the effectiveness of platform policy enforcement,” said CEO of the Anti-Defamation League Jonathan Greenblatt.

Video of the press call can be video here.

Last year, Gottheimer worked to give the President the power to ban TikTok in the United States, or force the sale of its U.S. operations to an American company. Gottheimer also wrote a letter to the CEO of TikTok questioning their child data privacy policies and data uses. In response, TikTok made no commitment to protect our country and our children.

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