NJ congressman to social media: Behave or pay up
⚫ New legislation will demand specific reports from social media companies
⚫ Officials want TikTok to register as a foreign agent
⚫ The Anti-Defamation League says this is uncharted territory for the U.S.
Social media is a superspreader of hate and misinformation, according to advocacy groups and federal officials that are looking to create more accountability in the wake of Hamas's attacks on Israel in October.
Along with colleagues from both sides of the political aisle, U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D.N.J. 5th District, announced on Wednesday that legislation will be introduced that aims to rein in lies and terror that's spread online through platforms such as TikTok.
The STOP HATE Act requires social media companies to release detailed reports of violations to their terms of service, such as using their platforms for terrorist purposes. Those reports would have to include information on how companies are addressing such violations.
"Every day the companies fail to comply will result in a $5 million fine," Gottheimer said during a Zoom call with reporters.
The legislation also requires the Director of National Intelligence to provide a report on the use of social media by terrorist organizations.
Officials claim social media organizations have failed to stop the spread of disinformation related to the Hamas-Israel conflict. In October, U.S. Rep Frank Pallone, D-N.J. 6th District, joined officials in Edison to demand that social media companies keep disturbing and deliberately false information off of their platforms.
In addition to the newly announced legislation, Gottheimer and his colleagues are calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to require TikTok to register as a foreign agent.
"China is using TikTok as a propaganda machine to influence Americans and collect our data," Gottheimer said.
Earlier this year, New Jersey made the move to ban the video sharing app from all state government devices, such as phones and tablets.
In 2022, TikTok agreed to a class action settlement for harvesting personal information and data from U.S. users without their consent. In 2019 the Federal Trade Commission fined TikTok for knowingly collecting the names, email addresses, pictures and locations of children under the age of 13 without parental consent.
Since the attacks by Hamas, the Anti-Defamation League has seen a "tsunami of antisemitism, hate, and disinformation," mostly through social media and messaging platforms, according to CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.
"We've been fighting antisemitism and all forms of bigotry for 110 years, and yet we have literally never seen a moment like this in the United States," Greenblatt said.
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