Senate Homeland Security chair asks TikTok for policies on extremist content

Senate Homeland Security chair asks TikTok for policies on extremist content
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Sen. Gary Peters, the chair of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, is asking TikTok to provide information on its policies monitoring and removing violent extremist content from its platform, as part of the committee’s efforts to investigate the rise in domestic terrorism and the events surrounding the January 6 insurrection.

In a letter sent Tuesday, Peters, a Michigan Democrat, demanded information on the content “related to the promotion, recruitment, and advocacy” of events leading to the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol that was removed from the platform three months prior to the attack.

The senator asked for what “strategies and actions” TikTok planned or executed with federal, state and local agencies to “detect and prevent extremist violence online, including without limitation, in relation to the January 6, 2021 attack.”

Peters also requested company guidelines for recommending content, targeted advertising and how its advertising parameters align with company policies on violence, hate speech, and hostile domestic threats.

“As domestic violent extremists continue to use social media and targeted advertising to spread hateful ideologies and organize attacks, these companies must do a better job of monitoring and preventing the proliferation of hateful ideologies such as white nationalist and anti-government rhetoric on their platforms,” Peters said in a statement Tuesday.

CNN has reached out to TikTok for comment.

TikTok’s community guidelines state that it will suspend and ban accounts “used to promote or glorify off-platform violence” and close accounts it has identified as violent and extremist individuals and organizations.

Ahead of the January 6 insurrection, calls for violence could be found in discussions on TikTok and several TikTok videos promoting violence racked up thousands of views, with one user advocating for protestors to take their “mother-[expletive] guns” to Washington, DC, according to research from nonpartisan nonprofit Advance Democracy.

At the time, TikTok had removed two of the videos after they were flagged by CNN Business.

While he said he appreciates that TikTok banned several extremist accounts and removed content promoting violence after January 6, Peters in his letter pointed out that the company removed some of the content “only after continued reports from outside parties, and TikTok extremist content has been allowed to return and continue operating on its platform.”

“In the aftermath of recent domestic extremism events, questions remain about the effectiveness of these policies and TikTok’s willingness and ability to enforce them,” Peters wrote, adding that the information requested would help “better understand what TikTok is doing to address the proliferation of domestic extremism online.”

He sent similar public document requests to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube last month.

On Tuesday, Peters also asked the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI for information about their policies and guidelines for “countering domestic terrorism and domestic extremist threats on social media and online platforms.”

Peters set an October 27 deadline for TikTok, DHS and FBI to turn over the requested documents and information.

The-CNN-Wire
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