Democrats ask Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to archive content that could be used in war crimes trial against Russia

·2 min read

The Democratic leaders of two House committees are teaming up to ask social media giants to preserve content that could be used against Russia in a potential war crimes trial.

A letter from the heads of the House Oversight and Foreign Affairs panels, Carolyn Maloney and Gregory Meeks, asks Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Tik Tok to preserve posts including images, video and messages that “could potentially be used as evidence of Russian war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other atrocities in Ukraine”.

The two committee chairs praised the companies for “rightfully” taking efforts to remove content that promotes, depicts, or glorifies violence. But they added that they “are concerned that the processes by which social media platforms take down or block this content — including through automated and artificial intelligence-enabled systems — can result in the unintentional removal and permanent deletion of content that could be used as evidence of potential human rights violations such as war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide”.

“Images and videos of these despicable acts have been shared on social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and TikTok. If verified as authentic, this content could provide the U.S. government and international human rights investigators with significant evidence to help substantiate allegations of war crimes and other atrocities committed by Russian forces against the people of Ukraine,” the committees’ letter continued.

The Independent has reached out to the four companies for comment on the lawmakers’ letter.

The Biden administration has continued to push Ukraine aid packages through the Democratic-controlled House and Senate with rare support from Republicans, and looks poised to do so again in the coming days to the tune of $40bn. That package was delayed on Thursday, however, by conservative Sen Rand Paul of Kentucky who objected to the Senate’s unanimous consent request for the legislation to pass.

His actions infuriated both Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who called for him to allow senators to vote on his amendment to the package that would appoint an inspector general to oversee how the aid is spent, as well as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who dismissively said that “it’s clear from the junior senator from Kentucky’s remarks that he doesn’t want to aid Ukraine”.

"The package is ready to go," added the Senate leader, according to CNN. "The vast majority of senators on both sides of the aisle want it. There's now only one thing holding us back the junior senator from Kentucky is preventing swift passage of Ukraine aid because he wants to add at the last minute his own changes directly into the bill. His change is strongly opposed by many members of both parties."

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