Senate

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.

{mosads}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 Klobuchar’s (D-Minn.) office, in introducing the legislation, cited the findings of former special counsel Robert Mueller 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 Smith (Minn.), Michael Bennet (Colo.), Gary Peters (Mich.), Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) and Sherrod Brown (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.”

Tags Amy Klobuchar Dianne Feinstein Gary Peters Michael Bennet Robert Mueller Sherrod Brown Tina Smith

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