House Democrats are calling on top social media companies to preserve and archive potential evidence of war crimes and human rights abuses by Russia in its invasion of Ukraine.
The CEOs of Twitter, Facebook (aka Meta), YouTube and TikTok received letters from House Democrats on Wednesday, asking them to preserve posts and videos “that may provide evidence of war crimes or human rights violations,” The Hill reported.
“Often, images and videos of these despicable acts and their aftermath have been recorded and shared on social media platforms, including Facebook and Instagram,” Democrats wrote to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, according to The Hill.
“If verified as authentic, this content could provide the U.S. government and international human rights investigators with a trove of evidence that would help to substantiate allegations of war crimes and other atrocities committed by Russian forces against the people of Ukraine.”
The letters noted that the social media platforms might take down graphic posts and videos for violations of terms of service. Artificial intelligence processes were pointed out in the House Democrats’ request to be sure even those are preserved as potential evidence against Russian abuses or war crimes.
“We are concerned that social media platforms, including Facebook and Instagram, do not have adequate procedures in place to archive this content so that it can be made available to international organizations conducting investigations into allegations of war crimes and other atrocities,” they added in the letter to Zuckerberg.
“Without proper archival procedures and mechanisms in place, the removal of this content means ‘valuable evidence … can be effectively lost forever,’ further hindering the ability of investigators to collect, examine, and verify evidence of human rights violations and war crimes.”
Among the signatories on the letters, according to The Hill, were House Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Malone of New York; House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Gregory Meeks of New York; and Reps. Stephen Lynch and Bill Keating, both of Massachusetts.
The Department of Justice under Attorney General Merrick Garland has already vowed to assist Ukraine in preserving evidence of war crimes.