Senate Democrats introduce bill to combat foreign influence campaigns

Senate Democrats introduce bill to combat foreign influence campaigns
© Greg Nash

A group of Senate Democrats on Friday introduced legislation aimed at educating the public on how to identify misinformation on social media platforms and to limit the impact of foreign influence campaigns during elections.

The Digital Citizenship and Media Literacy Act would create a grant program at the Department of Education to assist states in developing media literacy programs and fund existing initiatives in this area across grades K-12.

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The grant funds would also be available for the development of media literacy education guidelines, and for hiring teachers with a background in media literacy or training educators on this issue.

Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Fauci says focus should be on pausing reopenings rather than reverting to shutdowns; WHO director pleads for international unity in pandemic response State election officials warn budget cuts could lead to November chaos Biden strikes populist tone in blistering rebuke of Trump, Wall Street MORE's (D-Minn.) office, in introducing the legislation, cited the findings of former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE from his 22-month investigation into Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential elections.

Mueller's report noted that between 2013 and 2018 the Internet Research Agency, a Russian "troll farm," created accounts on social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter and posted content that reached about 126 million Americans.

The legislation is also sponsored by Democratic Sens. Tina SmithTina Flint SmithTrump officials seek to reassure public about safety of a potential coronavirus vaccine The Hill's Campaign Report: Candidates, lawmakers mark Juneteenth Group of Democratic senators to propose making Juneteenth national holiday MORE (Minn.), Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetHillicon Valley: Facebook considers political ad ban | Senators raise concerns over civil rights audit | Amazon reverses on telling workers to delete TikTok Senators raise concerns over Facebook's civil rights audit House Democrats chart course to 'solving the climate crisis' by 2050 MORE (Colo.), Gary PetersGary Charles PetersHealth care group launches M ad campaign hitting Trump in battleground states The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump wants schools to reopen, challenged on 'harmless' COVID-19 remark Senate outlook slides for GOP MORE (Mich.), Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinData shows seven Senate Democrats have majority non-white staffs Bottom line Filibuster reform gains steam with Democrats MORE (Calif.) and Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownSenate Dems request briefing on Russian bounty wire transfers On The Money: Mnuchin, Powell differ over how soon economy will recover | Millions fear eviction without more aid from Congress | IRS chief pledges to work on tax code's role in racial wealth disparities IRS chief pledges to work with Congress on examining tax code's role in racial wealth disparities MORE (Ohio).

“Adversaries are targeting our democracy with sophisticated information campaigns designed to divide Americans and undermine our political system,” Klobuchar said in a statement. “One of the best ways we can fight back is to give people the tools they need to identify these disinformation campaigns and that begins with educating students. Effective media literacy education teaches students to access, analyze, and evaluate information.” 

According to Klobuchar’s office, the bill is endorsed by groups including Media Literacy Now, the University of Rhode Island Media Education Lab and the National Association for Media Literacy.

Klobuchar has been among the more active Senate Democrats in pushing for the passage of election security legislation, sponsoring multiple bipartisan bills on the topic during both this Congress and the last. 

Klobuchar, who is running for president, has also been public with her intention to prioritize election security if elected, writing in a Medium post in June that one action she would take in her first 100 days would be to “prioritize cybersecurity and protect our elections and other American infrastructure from cyber attack.”