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US Republican senators ask tech firms about content moderation in Israel-Hamas war

WASHINGTON: A US Senate panel’s Republican lawmakers sent a letter on Friday (Oct 20) to tech companies Meta Platforms, Google, TikTok and X, formerly called Twitter, seeking information on their content moderation policies in the Israel-Hamas war, the senators said.

The Republican lawmakers of the US Senate Commerce Committee said they asked the companies “to commit to fully preserving a documentary history of Hamas’ atrocities.”

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Palestinian militant group Hamas attacked Israel on Oct 7, killing 1,400 people, mainly civilians. Since then Israel has bombed Gaza with air strikes. At least 4,137 Palestinians have been killed, including hundreds of children, in Gaza, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

Gaza, a 45km-long enclave home to 2.3 million people, has been ruled since 2006 by Hamas. Gaza has been cut off from much of the outside world for 16 years since Israel imposed a blockade.

“We believe it is imperative that we preserve a full documentary history of Hamas’ atrocities,” the Republican lawmakers led by Senator Ted Cruz said.

“Ordinarily policies limiting the distribution of disturbing content might make sense, but videos and images uploaded by soldiers, law enforcement, citizens, journalists, and those with real-time access to acts of terrorism need to be preserved to aid in prosecuting war crimes, intelligence gathering, media reporting, and the historical record.”

The senators said they requested a number of pieces of information, including content policies relevant to the dissemination of content from the Israel-Hamas War, data on content removed systematically without human review, and an explanation of how these policies are affected by international laws.

The senators also asked how the companies were complying with sanctions programs that require the blocking of interests of Hamas and how they were preventing their platforms from being used to provide material support to Hamas.

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