Senator Urges Social Media Companies To Crack Down On Russian Disinformation

The major tech platforms should take steps to make sure people in Ukraine can receive emergency messages from public safety organizations, while also removing fake content associated with Russian propaganda operations, Senator Mark Warner urged on Friday.

“As one of the world’s largest communications platforms, your company has a clear responsibility to ensure that your products are not used to facilitate human rights abuses, undermine humanitarian and emergency service responses, or advance harmful disinformation,” Warner (D-Virginia), chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said Friday in letters to the CEOs of Alphabet, Meta, Reddit, Telegram, TikTok, and Twitter.

Warner's letters come soon after reports surfaced that Kremlin operatives are using major U.S. social media platforms to spread disinformation about Ukraine -- including lies about the reasons why Russia invaded the country.

“While social media can provide valuable information to civilians in conflict zones and educate audiences far removed from those conflict zones, as well as a platform for some relatively independent media outlets -- including in Russia -- it can also serve as a vector for harmful misinformation and disinformation campaigns and a wide range of scams and frauds that opportunistically exploit confusion, desperation, and grief,” Warner said in the letter to all recipients.

The letter sent to Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai included an accusation that the company's platforms “continue to be key vectors for malign actors -- including, notably, those affiliated with the Russian government -- to not only spread disinformation, but to profit from it.”

Warner added that YouTube “continues to monetize the content of prominent influence actors that have been publicly connected to Russian influence campaigns.”

He is asking the tech companies to take a “heightened posture” toward Russian propaganda campaigns, warning that “information warfare constitutes an integral part of Russian military doctrine.”

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