In an effort to tackle the spread of false and misleading content surrounding the Israel-Hamas conflict, U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, a Democrat, sent letters to the leadership of major tech giants on Tuesday. The companies in question include Meta, X, TikTok, and Google.
Bennet expressed concerns about the proliferation of deceptive content across social media platforms since the outbreak of the conflict. He cited instances where such content garnered millions of views, contributing to the dissemination of misinformation. Deceptive materials have included visuals from past conflicts, video game footage, and altered documents, which have inundated social media since Hamas militants attacked Israeli civilians on October 7.
The Senator underscored the role of these platforms’ algorithms in amplifying such misleading content, creating a perilous cycle of outrage, engagement, and further distribution.
Bennet’s actions align with growing international scrutiny of tech companies’ responsibility to combat disinformation during the escalating Israel-Hamas conflict. Thierry Breton, the European Union’s industry chief, recently criticized these tech giants and urged them to implement more stringent measures against disinformation.
In his letter to the tech company executives, Bennet posed a series of questions related to their content moderation practices. The companies are expected to provide responses by October 31.
The social media firms have already taken some measures in response to the conflict. TikTok, the short video app, announced the hiring of additional Arabic and Hebrew-speaking content moderators. Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, reported the removal or marking of over 795,000 pieces of content in Hebrew or Arabic within the first three days following the Hamas attack. Additionally, X and Google-owned YouTube confirmed the removal of harmful content from their platforms in efforts to combat the spread of misleading information.
As the Israel-Hamas conflict unfolds, Senator Bennet’s inquiry and the actions taken by these tech giants are part of a broader effort to address the challenges posed by misinformation and deceptive content on social media platforms during times of crisis.