Social networks ordered to preserve war crimes images by Congress

Members of the Oversight and Reform Committees as well as Foreign Affairs, two committees of the US Congress, have asked Meta, TikTok, YouTube and Twitter to archive potential evidence of war crimes committed in Ukraine by the Russian military.

Evidence for the future

It has now been nearly three months since Russia attacked Ukraine, and possible war crimes have been documented in the region. In the event of future convictions against Russia, representatives Carolyn Maloney, Gregory Meeks, Stephen Lynch and William Keating believe that posting images or videos on social networks can constitute evidence against the perpetrators of these crimes.

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Images and videos of these despicable acts have been shared on social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok. If verified to be authentic, this content could provide the U.S. government and international human rights investigators with important evidence to help substantiate allegations of war crimes and other atrocities committed by the Russian forces against the Ukrainian people says the Oversight and Reform Committee in A press release.

Social networking apps on a smartphone.

A lot of content about the war in Ukraine has been posted on social media. Photography: Jeremy Bezanger / Unsplash

Social networks must change their habits in times of war

In general, violent content is removed from platforms, but MEPs wonder what happens to this content once it is no longer accessible online: “ Social media platforms routinely remove graphic content that glorifies violence or human suffering or could lead to further perpetration of violence, and have rightfully implemented graphic content policies to protect their users. However, we are concerned that the processes by which social media platforms remove or block such content – including through automated and artificial intelligence-based systems – may result in the unintended removal and permanent deletion of content that could be used as evidence of potential human rights violations such as war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide “, they wrote in a letter addressed to the CEOs of the four platforms concerned.

Thus, they ask them in particular to preserve and archive potentially useful content for an extended period; to coordinate with international human rights organizations to develop a legal and established way to share this content, but also to increase the transparency of content moderation systems based on artificial intelligence and their interface with war content. They further ask them to create a way for users to report content they believe may contain evidence of war crimes.

This is not the first time that technology has been used in this context. In 2020, the University of Swansea in the United Kingdom, as well as several associations, imagined an AI capable of analyzing a large number of images to detect war crimes committed in Yemen by Saudi Arabia.

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Social networks ordered to preserve war crimes images by Congress

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