Like Causes?

Install the App
TRY NOW

house Bill H.R. 7117

Should the FTC Start a Task Force on Social Media Bots?

Argument in favor

Bots pose a clear threat to electoral security, public trust in institutions, and accurate reporting of the news. Their impact on the 2016 presidential election has been widely acknowledged and warrants further congressional action to prevent future elections from being impacted by foreign social media actors.

burrkitty's Opinion
···
11/17/2018
Also bring back the Fairness Doctrine for media. Things started going downhill when we lost the legal guidelines that made the media tell the TRUTH!
Like (153)
Follow
Share
SneakyPete's Opinion
···
11/17/2018
H.R. 7117 AKA the Bots Research Act I’m in FULL support and recommend the passage of the HOUSE bill H.R.7117 AKA The Bots Research Act —Which would establish a new task force at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to determine automated social media accounts’ (often known as “bots”) impact on public discourse and elections. This task force would include at least one member from each of the following sectors: government, academia, non-profits, and industry. It would be charged with defining what qualifies as a “bot,” identifying how such accounts are used, and recommending strategies for combating bots’ negative effects. Bots pose a clear threat to electoral security, public trust in institutions, and accurate reporting of the news. Their impact on the 2016 presidential election has been widely acknowledged and warrants further congressional action to prevent future elections from being impacted by foreign social media actors. SneakyPete.... 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻. 11*17*18.....
Like (43)
Follow
Share
Juan's Opinion
···
11/17/2018
Yes I like this bill. I didn’t read the whole back drop to this bill but on the surface it seems necessary. I would hope that this bill had a expiration date though, let it run for 1-2 to see how effective it is. While we’re on the topic of internet regulations, The government should also consider a similar bill that Europe passed, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). “At its heart, GDPR provides European citizens with the tools they need to better control the data collected about them. Under the law, from May 25 onwards, firms anywhere in the world that collect data on E.U. citizens need to offer users the option to see the information collected about them, and to move or delete that information. Firms will also be required to report any data breaches within 72 hours”.
Like (16)
Follow
Share

Argument opposed

The threat of bots is exaggerated and the major social media platforms are already under pressure to rein them in. Convening a task force won’t significantly advance anti-bot efforts since it’s the social media platforms themselves, not Congress, that will develop the most effective anti-bot policies and technologies.

Bob's Opinion
···
11/18/2018
The government has no place in this matter. Bots should be handled by the websites, programs, or service providers, and those who create bots should be held liable for violating terms of service in civil lawsuits.
Like (22)
Follow
Share
Brian 's Opinion
···
11/18/2018
Waste money on something else that Doesn’t matter. How about making these public platforms actually able to let people speak and ask questions instead of banning them for not blindly following there ideology.
Like (14)
Follow
Share
Kathryn 's Opinion
···
11/18/2018
I’m only voting Nay because, as is, the bill is very vague. It’s a great idea! but I think it needs tweaking... first and foremost you have to define what is or what qualifies as hate speech and what is, or isn’t protected by the first amendment. Secondly, perhaps this would be best done by a third party collaboration that doesn’t in involve government? You have a lot of distrust out there (rightfully so, the government doesn’t have the best history in terms of honesty and transparency) and I’m afraid people/media would just continually try to annihilate the validity of any results due to the governments involvement. Thirdly, you say the social media giants are already under a lot of pressure to combat this...what’s going on with that? is there no progress? What have their results looked like? Why do we need this bill if they are already working on it?
Like (8)
Follow
Share

What is House Bill H.R. 7117?

This bill — the Bots Research Act — would establish a new task force at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to determine automated social media accounts’ (often known as “bots”) impact on public discourse and elections. This task force would include at least one member from each of the following sectors: government, academia, non-profits, and industry. It would be charged with defining what qualifies as a “bot,” identifying how such accounts are used, and recommending strategies for combating bots’ negative effects.

The task force would report its findings to Congress and other relevant federal agencies to help inform future legislative action addressing bots.

Impact

Social media networks; Facebook; Twitter; Russian bots; and the FTC.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 7117

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthRep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA) introduced this bill to study bots’ impact on public discourse and elections:

“Bot accounts can disseminate false information to alter public opinion with superhuman speed. There is clear evidence that bad actors used bots during the 2016 election with the sole purpose of destabilizing public discourse and undermining our elections. Despite bots’ dangers, there is still widespread disagreement on how best to regulate these accounts. Before we can effectively police this realm, we need experts to come to the table and create guidelines that protect both cybersecurity and First Amendment rights, and that can keep pace with an ever-changing innovation sector. Without this key piece of the process, we cannot safeguard our democracy.”

Prior to introducing this bill, Rep. DeSaulnier called on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to convene a hearing on the influence bots could have had on the 2016 Presidential election. In his letter, Rep. DeSaulnier called attention to both the bot business’ profitability and its potential for swaying elections:

“[Bot] companies… have made millions of dollars selling fake accounts to ‘social media influencers’ looking to spread their reach. Influencers, ranging for celebrity chefs to sports stars, pay thousands of dollars to amass hundreds of thousands of ‘followers,’ the majority of which are now known to be bots. Although seemingly innocuous, this practice can be dangerous. Bot accounts can spread false information for deceptive purposes, such as altering public opinion to sway elections, with superhuman veracity. It is essential that we understand how [bot companies] operate in order to prevent these bot accounts from destabilizing the public’s trust in our nation’s elections and undermining our national security.”

Top-ranking Democrats Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) have repeatedly demanded that Facebook and Twitter investigate whether Russian trolls and bots are still trying to “manipulate public opinion” on their sites. In January 2018, Sen. Feinstein and Rep. Schiff wrote to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, requesting that they investigate the origins of the #ReleaseTheMemo hashtag calling for the release of a Republican dossier detailing abuses of power at the FBI, which Democrats characterized as an attempt to discredit Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation:

“Several Twitter hashtags, including #ReleaseTheMemo, calling for release of these talking points attacking the Mueller investigation were born in the hours after the [House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Majority] vote [allowing House members to review the Republicans’ memo]. According to the Germany Marshall Fund’s Alliance for Securing Democracy, this effort gained the immediate attention and assistance of social media accounts linked to Russian influence operations. By Friday, January 19, 2018, the #ReleaseTheMemo hashtag was ‘the top trending hashtag among Twitter accounts believed to be operated by Kremlin-linked groups.’ Its use had ‘increased by 286,700 percent’ and was being used ‘100 times more than any other hashtag’ by accounts linked to Russian influence campaigns… If these reports are accurate, we are witnessing an ongoing attack by the Russian government through Kremlin-linked social media actors directly acting to intervene and influence our democratic process. This should be disconcerting to all Americans, but especially your companies as, once again, it appears the vast majority of their efforts are concentrated on your platforms.”

Some of President Trump’s supporters have been critical of anti-bot efforts at Twitter in particular. When Twitter suspended multiple accounts after Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russian nationals for meddling in the U.S. election by various means, including using fake Twitter accounts to conduct “information warfare” against the U.S., conservative Twitter users who lost followers accused the site of left-wing bias and censorship.

Others, including Wellesley computer science professor Takis Metaxas, argue that the bot threat may be overhyped. Metaxas says, “I don’t know of any trends, but I believe that the role and number of the malicious bots are rather exaggerated in the usual reporting.”


Of NoteEstimates suggest that roughly 48 million active Twitter users are bots. In November 2017, Facebook testified that upwards of 60 million automated accounts are on its platform. Recently, Twitter has notified 1.4 million Americans that they interacted with, or even promoted, Russian-linked activities during the 2016 Presidential election.

According a January 2018 report from Twitter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Russian bots retweeted Donald Trump nearly 500,000 times in the 10 weeks leading up to and directly after the U.S. presidential election — 10 times more than they retweeted Hillary Clinton. In total, over 50,000 Russia-connected bots sent over two million election-related tweets from September 1 to November 15, 2016, comprising approximately one percent of all tweets on Twitter during that time period. Due to this high volume of engagement with Donald Trump’s Twitter account, Russia-connect bots accounted for over four percent of his retweets, versus accounting for less than one percent of retweets for Hillary Clinton.

According to Twitter, Russia-connected bots also engaged heavily with Wikileaks, retweeting Wikileaks around 200,000 times from September 1 to November 15, 2016. They were responsible for nearly five percent of tweets using the hashtag #PodestaEmails.

In September 2017, Facebook disclosed its discovery of 3,000 ads from 470 accounts connected to a Russian bot manufacturer. Collectively, those accounts created 80,000 pieces of content that were shared with approximately 126 million people.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / marchmeena29)

AKA

Bots Research Act

Official Title

To direct the Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission to establish a task force for the purpose of studying the effects of automated accounts on social media, public discourse, and elections, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Energy and Commerce
    IntroducedNovember 6th, 2018
    Also bring back the Fairness Doctrine for media. Things started going downhill when we lost the legal guidelines that made the media tell the TRUTH!
    Like (153)
    Follow
    Share
    The government has no place in this matter. Bots should be handled by the websites, programs, or service providers, and those who create bots should be held liable for violating terms of service in civil lawsuits.
    Like (22)
    Follow
    Share
    H.R. 7117 AKA the Bots Research Act I’m in FULL support and recommend the passage of the HOUSE bill H.R.7117 AKA The Bots Research Act —Which would establish a new task force at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to determine automated social media accounts’ (often known as “bots”) impact on public discourse and elections. This task force would include at least one member from each of the following sectors: government, academia, non-profits, and industry. It would be charged with defining what qualifies as a “bot,” identifying how such accounts are used, and recommending strategies for combating bots’ negative effects. Bots pose a clear threat to electoral security, public trust in institutions, and accurate reporting of the news. Their impact on the 2016 presidential election has been widely acknowledged and warrants further congressional action to prevent future elections from being impacted by foreign social media actors. SneakyPete.... 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻. 11*17*18.....
    Like (43)
    Follow
    Share
    Yes I like this bill. I didn’t read the whole back drop to this bill but on the surface it seems necessary. I would hope that this bill had a expiration date though, let it run for 1-2 to see how effective it is. While we’re on the topic of internet regulations, The government should also consider a similar bill that Europe passed, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). “At its heart, GDPR provides European citizens with the tools they need to better control the data collected about them. Under the law, from May 25 onwards, firms anywhere in the world that collect data on E.U. citizens need to offer users the option to see the information collected about them, and to move or delete that information. Firms will also be required to report any data breaches within 72 hours”.
    Like (16)
    Follow
    Share
    Waste money on something else that Doesn’t matter. How about making these public platforms actually able to let people speak and ask questions instead of banning them for not blindly following there ideology.
    Like (14)
    Follow
    Share
    With our whole world going online, there’s a lot at stake. It’s time our laws caught up with the changing times. Bots are just the tip of the iceberg.
    Like (13)
    Follow
    Share
    These apps are leveraged by our enemies, foreign and domestic, to spread fear, misinformation, and therefore further dividing our Republic.
    Like (10)
    Follow
    Share
    Yes because the truth needs to come out and get rid of the paranoia and conspiracy theories about conservatives being banned.
    Like (9)
    Follow
    Share
    I’m only voting Nay because, as is, the bill is very vague. It’s a great idea! but I think it needs tweaking... first and foremost you have to define what is or what qualifies as hate speech and what is, or isn’t protected by the first amendment. Secondly, perhaps this would be best done by a third party collaboration that doesn’t in involve government? You have a lot of distrust out there (rightfully so, the government doesn’t have the best history in terms of honesty and transparency) and I’m afraid people/media would just continually try to annihilate the validity of any results due to the governments involvement. Thirdly, you say the social media giants are already under a lot of pressure to combat this...what’s going on with that? is there no progress? What have their results looked like? Why do we need this bill if they are already working on it?
    Like (8)
    Follow
    Share
    While you’re at it, start a committee to address climate change in order to better prepare for future climate and weather catastrophes.
    Like (7)
    Follow
    Share
    Bots swayed the elections? No don’t think so. When I was told by the anarchists (democrats) that boys should be girls & girls should be boys, that was enough to sway my vote.
    Like (6)
    Follow
    Share
    Social media bots should be illegal!!!!!
    Like (5)
    Follow
    Share
    About time that Congress woke up to the cyber threat.
    Like (5)
    Follow
    Share
    i do think the constant barrage of misinformation and provocation from non-human posters on social media is a problem for our society. People are becoming more and more susceptible to violence based on conspiracy theories, such as what happened with the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting. Allowing fake posts to stoke such theories will only add to the possibility of more violence in the future. I think all media companies should employ better tools for screening and removing bots and other fake posts, and the FTC can lead this effort.
    Like (5)
    Follow
    Share
    The FTC, as all federal agencies, are limited by the US Constitution, so have no authority outside of that document.
    Like (5)
    Follow
    Share
    Yes!
    Like (4)
    Follow
    Share
    This is essential to democracy functioning correctly.
    Like (4)
    Follow
    Share
    Define "bots", "fake news", and "disinformation". Even better, define exactly WHO decides what the definitions are and how they are applied. Then we can tslk about what a FANTASTIC censorship toolkit you have built and who gets to control it.
    Like (4)
    Follow
    Share
    I will err on the side of caution on this one. I suppose some people need to be spoon-fed since they are not inclined to research and know facts. Personally, I’m not going to fall for stuff on social media because I read and do research on candidates and other pertinent information prior to voting. From where I see it, it certainly isn’t the Russians or the Chinese we should worry about—it’s the Democrats who are meddling and trying to steal the elections.
    Like (4)
    Follow
    Share
    While a study will provide more precise information what is really needed is actual follow up to the findings of such a commission. Realistic time frames for reports with concrete steps that can be taken in a timely way would make this commission worth it’s effort.
    Like (4)
    Follow
    Share
    MORE