Texas police to expect Twitter, Facebook, Google to be better partners in preventing online threats
On this Wednesday, some of the world’s biggest tech companies told state lawmakers that they are cooperate closely with law enforcement to detect and battling mass violence attacks, while police officials responded that the companies need to be better partners. Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said that “I believe that they want to do the right thing, it just hasn’t happened yet.”
The lack of communication between law enforcement and tec companies in preventing online threats have been highlighted by Texas lawmakers. The companies were hesitant to participate in discussions as well as didn’t provide answers to detailed questions from lawmakers there. Officials from Google, Microsoft, Twitter and Amazon skipped the equivalent House committee organized in October, which Facebook attended.
Representatives from Google, Facebook and Microsoft told lawmakers on Wednesday that it is one of their top concerns in preventing the spread of hateful ideologies and mass violence on their platforms, but it must also be balanced with the protection of their customers’ privacy.
Martinez, the head of public policy and community engagement for Facebook’s Southwest region, said that “Our company is making progress”. With more than 35,000 people working on online safety, Facebook is part of a consortium of tech companies, including Google and Twitter. And the company focused on fighting global terrorism. Facebook took down 7 million pieces of content related to hate speech in the period from July to September of this year.
The technology giants also tried to put into perspective the challenge’s size. Facebook and Google each have 2 billion users. While Facebook got 50,000 requests for information from law enforcement in the U.S., Microsoft got 40,000 requests globally for the first half of this year. However, tech companies provide responses slowly to those requests, even it is so difficult to get an update on their status. The frustration is still exacerbated when police are solving a potentially imminent threat. McCraw says that what police do need is cooperation to get the information back in a timely manner.
Moreover, McCraw had productive conversations with representatives from Google and Facebook. However, the work remains, especially in situations when authorities are working on a potentially imminent threat. Actually, the proactive piece and the timeliness piece needs to be worked on.