‘US govt undermines democracy’ seeking more control over social media
Technology and social media giants Facebook, Twitter, and Google have been in the hot seat before US Congress intelligence committees. They were grilled on day two of hearings into alleged Russian interference in the presidential election in 2016. Lawyers for Twitter, Google, and Facebook testified that the amount of Russian-linked content on their platforms was relatively small. But was that what the Senators wanted to hear?
RT asked Daniel McAdams, executive director of Ron Paul Institute whether Senators are pushing the firms to get in line with US foreign policy.
“It’s preposterous that the US government purports to tell the American people what they are allowed to read, what they are allowed to consume on social media,” he said,
McAdams cited Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) who said during the grilling “How do we know that isn’t going to undermine our democracy?”
McAdams argues: “Our democracy is based on us having the widest range of information possible with zero government involvement. They are the ones that are acting like totalitarians; they are the ones acting like anti-American; they are the ones that are undermining our democracy.”
In his view, the US government wants to gain more control over social media, which still remains “very democratized” while they “don’t like people thinking outside the lines and coloring outside the lines.”
As to whether the tech companies will bow to the pressure coming from the Senators, in McAdam’s view they ultimately will. “But the reason the Senators are so angry is that there is no “their” there. Senator (Mark) Warner, who’s gone to California, Silicon Valley, how many times they twisted arms, browbeat, smacked these people around: “You better find evidence of Russian collusion in our elections.” He can’t find it. So instead of coming back and saying: “You know, I am barking up the wrong tree.” He yells at the companies: “Why don’t you find the stuff,” so that they have the conclusion first and then they look for the evidence afterward. It just shows how desperate they are getting that they can’t find anything. Even the accounts they claim are “Russia-linked,” what does that mean? Does that mean that is associated with the Russian government or just Russian people? I am an American – I am not an “American-linked,” when I go on the internet. I am an individual.”
Former US diplomat Jim Jatras, commenting on the public grilling of the tech giants by US lawmakers, said “a lot of political grandstanding going on here.”
“I am not necessarily a big fan of these big tech companies, but watching the hearing [Wednesday] I had the sense of people trying to give reasonable answers to some very unreasonable questions that they were making it clear that they do have standards, having to do with editorial policy would, for example, we were talking about incitement to violence or something that could be connected to terrorism. It is not their job to try to exercise political censorship over content that somebody in the US government or the Congress doesn’t like. And that seems to be what these Senators are faulting these companies for,” he told RT.