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House Dems introduce bill to fight social media disinformation

House Dems introduce bill to fight social media disinformation
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A group of House Democrats on Friday introduced legislation intended to increase media literacy among Americans in order to combat social media disinformation campaigns.

The Digital Citizen and Media Literacy Act would establish a $20 million grant program at the Department of Education to help fund K-12 media literacy curricula. The funds would be available to local education agencies to create programs on media literacy and to state agencies to create “advisory councils” to establish state-wide media literacy guidelines. 

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The bill was introduced days after the Senate Intelligence Committee released its bipartisan report on Russian social media disinformation efforts in the run-up to the 2016 elections. 

The committee found that the Kremlin directed the Russian Internet Research Agency to spread disinformation with the goal of helping now-President TrumpDonald TrumpMore than two-thirds of Americans approve of Biden's coronavirus response: poll Sarah Huckabee Sanders to run for governor Mexico's president tests positive for COVID-19 MORE over former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBiden must wait weekend for State Department pick Texas Supreme Court rejects Alex Jones request to toss lawsuits from Sandy Hook parents Paris Agreement: Biden's chance to restore international standing MORE, echoing findings detailed by former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump MORE

The committee also included a set of recommendations for Congress, the Trump administration and social media companies in order to prevent future foreign disinformation efforts, including the idea of creating a “public initiative” aimed at promoting “critical thinking skills” to help Americans identify disinformation online. 

“Addressing the challenge of disinformation in the long-term will ultimately need to be tackled by an informed and discerning population of citizens who are both alert to the threat and armed with the critical thinking skills necessary to protect against malicious influence,” the committee wrote. “A public initiative-propelled by federal funding but led in large part by state and local education institutions-focused on building media literacy from an early age would help build long-term resilience to foreign manipulation of our democracy.”

Sponsors of the bill include Democratic Reps. Elissa SlotkinElissa SlotkinFive centrist Democrats oppose Pelosi for Speaker in tight vote Pelosi wins Speakership for fourth time in dramatic vote LIVE COVERAGE: House votes to name Speaker MORE (Mich.), Jim LangevinJames (Jim) R. LangevinThe next pandemic may be cyber — How Biden administration can stop it Hillicon Valley: Parler sues Amazon, asks court to reinstate platform | Twitter stock falls after Trump ban | Facebook pauses political spending in wake of Capitol attack Cyber czar to draw on new powers from defense bill MORE (R.I.), Abigail SpanbergerAbigail Davis SpanbergerHillicon Valley: Intelligence agency gathers US smartphone location data without warrants, memo says | Democrats seek answers on impact of Russian hack on DOJ, courts | Airbnb offers Biden administration help with vaccine distribution House lawmakers reintroduce bipartisan bill to weed out foreign disinformation on social media 'I saw my life flash before my eyes': An oral history of the Capitol attack MORE (Va.), Chrissy Houlahan (Penn.), Xochitl Torres Small (N.M.), Mikie SherrillRebecca (Mikie) Michelle SherrillCalls grow for 9/11-style panel to probe Capitol attack Do Democrats really want unity? Belfast's Troubles echo in today's Washington MORE (N.J.), and Lauren UnderwoodLauren UnderwoodNew coalition aims to combat growing wave of ransomware attacks Lawmakers call for lowering health care costs to address disparities in pandemic Overnight Health Care: First signs of Thanksgiving wave emerge | FDA says Pfizer vaccine is highly effective, even after first dose | Biden aims for 100 million vaccinations in first hundred days MORE (Ill.).

A group of Senate Democrats led by Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharSenators spar over validity of Trump impeachment trial Sunday shows - Biden agenda, Trump impeachment trial dominate Klobuchar says Senate impeachment trial of former official is constitutional: 'We have precedent' MORE (Minn.), a 2020 White House candidate, in July introduced similar legislation in the Senate, though it has not seen any movement since. 

“We know that foreign entities continue to target ads and disinformation at voters in states like Michigan, that seek to divide our communities and influence our political process,” Slotkin said in a statement. “An important part of safeguarding our country against foreign influence is making sure individual citizens have the tools to spot that disinformation.”

Langevin pointed to ongoing foreign disinformation efforts aimed at interfering in U.S. elections in emphasizing that “we must combat this grave threat to our democracy, and increasing media literacy is an important tool to improve resiliency.”

Houlahan described election security as something that “need not be a partisan issue,” while Sherrill said in a statement that “disinformation is a national security threat.”

Underwood added that "We know that foreign adversaries are working to interfere in future elections, so the time is now to act to protect our democracy and the integrity of U.S. elections.”