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House Democrats urge social media platforms to preserve potential Ukraine war crimes evidence

On Wednesday, leading House Democrats wrote letters to the chief executives of four major social media platforms, urging them to preserve and archive content related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that could be potential evidence of crimes of war.

Lawmakers asked Meta, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok to retain and archive posts related to the conflict “that could provide evidence of war crimes or human rights violations”, establish a mechanism with specific human rights organizations to share this content and create a way for content illustrating a possible war crime to be reported by users of the platforms.

“Often, images and videos of these despicable acts and their aftermath have been recorded and shared on social media platforms including Facebook and Instagram,” lawmakers wrote in a letter to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

“If verified as authentic, this content could provide the U.S. government and international human rights investigators with a treasure trove of evidence that would help substantiate claims of war crimes and other atrocities committed by forces. against the Ukrainian people.”

Leading House Democrats underscored the importance of their request, noting that automated and AI-enabled systems, and other means used by social media platforms to remove graphic posts, can remove content of their platforms that could be used as possible evidence of human rights violations.

“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 investigating allegations of war crimes and other atrocities,” they wrote to Zuckerberg.

“Without proper archival procedures and mechanisms in place, the removal of this content means that ‘valuable evidence…may effectively be lost forever’, further hampering investigators’ ability to collect, review and verify evidence of violations. human rights and war crimes”. they added.

The letters were signed by House Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn B. Maloney (DN.Y.), House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Gregory Meeks (DN.Y.) and Representatives Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) and Bill Keating (D-Mass.)

The development comes after Attorney General Merrick Garland confirmed last month that the United States was helping Ukraine collect and preserve evidence of possible war crimes.

The Hill has reached out to Meta, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok for comment.

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