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Congress to Twitter: Get real about racism or get regulated

Congress to Twitter: Get real about racism or get regulated
[Photo: Jomar Thomas]

If you dip your toe into the cesspool of Twitter, you’ll quickly realize it’s nearly impossible to avoid the race-baiting comments thrown around by Pepes and trolls and assorted mean people. Now, two members of Congress are trying to encourage a kinder, gentler social media site.

Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman and Emanuel Cleaver wrote Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey a letter (yes, it was longer than 140 characters) calling the site “an avenue to spread racism and bigotry” used for “propagating hate” and “undermining democracy.” In their letter, which was originally reported by Recode, the representatives wrote that they were concerned about reports of the proliferation of Russian bots that “exploit political and social divisions in the United States,” as well as the trolls that disseminate “racist ideologies” that end up “contributing to the types of violence” that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August.

The lawmakers asked Twitter to share more information about their handling of “racially divisive communications” and the security procedures the company has in place to stop foreign entities in particular from spreading such messages. Coleman and Cleaver added that they were “greatly concerned about Twitter’s ability and capacity to tackle the issues” on their own, and offered (or threatened?) assistance in the form of additional regulation and increased government oversight if the company doesn’t take action.

Read the full letter here.

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