Congress asks Meta, TikTok, YouTube and Twitter to archive evidence of Russian war crimes

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Four US Representatives signed letters to the CEOs of Meta, TikTok, YouTube and Twitter to archive any content uploaded to their platforms that could be used as evidence of Russian war crimes.

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As TikTok grows in popularity and exceeds 1 billion users, distribution of the short video has provided unprecedented access to live broadcasts from war zones, not to mention that Meta, YouTube and Twitter also continue to grab our attention. These members of Congress—Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Stephen Lynch (D-Massachusetts) and William Keating (D-Massachusetts)—think that social media uploads can help arrest criminals. perpetrators of human rights violations.

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Graphic wartime videos are often removed from social platforms because they may violate terms of service that prohibit violent content. But according to Human Rights Watch (HRW) report, which is cited in these letters to the CEOs, it is not clear what happens to these videos once they are removed from public apps. Facebook, for example, says it keeps deleted data for at least 90 days, but Facebook told HRW that it sometimes keeps data longer at the request of law enforcement.

“We are concerned that social media platforms […] do not have proper procedures in place to archive this content so that it can be accessed by international organizations investigating allegations of war crimes and other atrocities,” the representatives said. statement is reading.

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In particular, four representatives urge these platforms to preserve and archive potentially useful content for an extended period of time; coordinate with international human rights organizations to develop a legal, established way to share such content; increase the transparency of AI-based content moderation systems and how they interact with military content; and enabling users to flag content that they believe may contain evidence of war crimes.

“Photos, videos and other content posted on social media increasingly support accountability processes, including litigation, for serious international crimes both nationally and internationally,” the HRW report says. explains. HRW says at least ten cases have been reported in Germany, Finland, the Netherlands and Sweden in which people involved in war crimes in Iraq and Syria have been prosecuted using evidence from social media posts.

While this evidence can help international legal systems, these bodies must also be careful not to fall prey to disinformation that can be used to facilitate wrongful conviction. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, there have been many cases of fake videos going viral on social media, such as video game footage it is presented as if it was filmed on the ground in Ukraine.

TechCrunch reached out to Meta, TikTok, YouTube, and Twitter for comments. We will update this post with any response.


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