New York, Oct 5 (IANS) Microblogging site Twitter is serving as “an avenue to spread racism and bigotry”, two US lawmakers have alleged.
The tech industry as a whole must identify and suspend the accounts behind such messages on their platforms in order to avoid regulation, US Representatives Bonnie Watson Coleman and Emanuel Cleaver said this week, according to a ReCode report on Wednesday.
“As a result of the far-reaching nature of Twitter’s technology, we have seen an effort to undermine our democracy, create or fan flames of racial divisions, and spread hate speech that can ultimately cumulate into violence,” the two Democratic lawmakers wrote in a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.
For them, the tipping point appears to be reports that Russian agents sought to stir political unrest ahead of the 2016 presidential election by stoking racial tensions, even running ads targeting groups like Black Lives Matter, the report said.
But those ads actually ran on Facebook, not Twitter. Nevertheless, Watson Coleman and Cleaver stressed that Twitter long has struggled to address racism and other hate speech spread on its site, sometimes by bots.
“We are disturbed by the ease with which foreign actors were able to manipulate your platform to advance anti-American sentiments that both exacerbates racial tension and ultimately threatens our democracy,” they added.
“More importantly, we are disappointed by the silence from you and others in your industry on ways to counter such blatant manipulation of this medium to build racial animosity, the consequences of which are quite literally life threatening,” the two congressmen added.
Facebook and Twitter will appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on November 1 to testify into Russian interference during the 2016 US presidential election, according to reports.