The Latest: Lawmakers criticize social media for hate crimes


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the House Judiciary Committee hearing on white nationalism and social media (all times local):

1:05 p.m.

David Cicilline, a Democratic lawmaker from Rhode Island, grilled Facebook’s Neil Potts and Google’s Alexandria Walden about their companies’ responsibility in the spread of white supremacy, pushing them to acknowledge that they’ve played a role, even if it is not intentional.

“Can you answer? You agree white nationalism is enjoying a meaningful resurgence the United States?,” asked the congressman, citing research from law enforcement and the ADL.

“Yes I am aware of all the research,” Walden responded.

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Potts and Walden did acknowledge that their companies have a responsibility in curbing hate.


12:15 p.m.

Conservative commentator Candace Owens tells lawmakers at a hearing about white nationalism that the country needs to talk more about what she called harassment of conservatives of color.

“We’re not talking enough about political hatred in this country,” she tells the House Judiciary Committee.

Owens, who is black, is the director of communications for conservative group Turning Point USA. A frequent public speaker, she has been an active supporter of President Donald Trump and has been trying to push African Americans to leave the Democratic Party.

Owens complained to lawmakers about a “double standard” that she says allows criticism of black conservatives, Christians and Jews.

“We need to condemn all types of hate speech,” she says.


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11:30 a.m.

Policy leaders from Facebook and Google are condemning hate crimes and defending their companies’ policies on hate speech at a congressional hearing.

“There is no place for terrorism or hate on Facebook,” Facebook director of public policy Neil Potts tells the House Judiciary committee. “We remove any content that incites violence.”

The committee is holding a hearing on the spread of white nationalism and hate crimes, including the part social media plays in fostering extremism.

Facebook and YouTube have policies in place to prohibit violent and hateful material, but many critics say they do not go far enough and hate groups use the platforms anyway.

The hearing was prompted after the shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand, last month where the shooter livestreamed part of his rampage on social media.


11:15 a.m.

The chat on a YouTube livestream of a congressional hearing on white nationalism was disabled after racist and anti-Semitic comments were posted.

The chat was turned off about 30 minutes after the House Judiciary committee hearing began. The chat, which allows users to post public comments in real-time, quickly descended into targeted attacks.

A YouTube spokesman said the comments were disabled because of hateful comments.

The Congressional committee is holding a hearing about the spread of white nationalism and hate crimes in the U.S. Google and Facebook representatives are testifying along with human rights leaders.


10:45 a.m.

A congressional committee hearing on white nationalism has begun with statements criticizing the spread of hate crimes in the U.S. and social media’s role in the spread.

The House Judiciary committee is hearing from Facebook and Google executives, as well as human rights leaders, about the spread of hate crimes and white nationalism in the U.S.

The hearing room and the hallway outside were thronged with young people, some wearing T-shirts with names of people said to have been victims of hate crimes.

Mohammad Abu-Salha, whose two daughters and son-in-law were shot and killed in a hate crime in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in 2015, tells lawmakers that the government must stand up against bigotry and social media companies must stop “providing platforms and safe haven” for hate groups.


9:00 a.m.

Executives from Google and Facebook will appear before Congress to answer questions about their role in the spread of hate crimes and the rise of white nationalism in the U.S.

Neil Potts, Facebook’s director of public policy and Alexandria Walden, counsel for free expression and human rights at Google, will speak Tuesday to the House Judiciary Committee along with leaders of the Anti-Defamation League, the Equal Justice Society and others.

The hearing was prompted by the March shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, when a gunman killed 50 people at two mosques and livestreamed the attacks on Facebook. The suspected shooter also published a lengthy post online that espoused white supremacist views.

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