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November 21, 2019

Rose Introduces Raising the Bar Act to Address Terrorist Content on Social Media

(WASHINGTON) – Congressman Max Rose, Chair of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence & Counterterrorism, introduced legislation today to help hold social media companies accountable and stop the spread of terrorist content online in a way that would “raise the bar” on how well social media companies shut down terrorist activity on their platforms.

“Social media companies have become institutions in our society and have a responsibility to stop the spread of terrorist content on their platforms.” Rose said. “While we’ve made progress in pushing them to do more, the reality is we all need to work together—private companies, non-profit and research institutions, and the federal government. This commonsense program, which has similarly worked well in Europe, would hold social media companies accountable to their own written standards and encourage the kind of partnerships that are needed to properly stop the spread of terrorist content online.”

“The unfortunate reality is that bad actors are using social media platforms to spread terrorist content online,” said Congressman Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security. As companies have tried to respond to the viral proliferation of this content, we need new and innovative ideas to address it.  I thank Chairman Rose for his leadership on this issue and for introducing this much-needed legislation today.”

Rose’s Raising the Bar Act, which is inspired by the European Union’s Code of Conduct on countering illegal hate speech online, would establish an exercise program in which online terrorist content is flagged for social media companies. During each exercise, approved flaggers identify terrorist content to help test the efficacy of companies’ practices to address such content on their platforms within 24 hours. Social media companies are then rated on their performance in each exercise by a lead institution, such as a university or non-profit organization, which will be selected by the Department of Homeland Security. 

Rose has been a leader in pushing social media companies to do more to combat the spread of terrorism online—including highlighting failures to remove terrorist content on their platforms. Earlier this year, Rose took to the House floor to highlight a similar auto-generated Facebook page of an Al Qaeda-linked terrorist organization that remained active weeks after first being reported by the Associated Press—and remained active until after additional follow up from Rose.

Rose was successful in pressuring social media companies to formalize and transform the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT) into a standalone, non-profit institution with full-time staff, as well as in pushing Facebook to ban extremist 8chan links on its platform. Additionally, Rose has called on the top social media companies to provide information on their annual budgets for counterterrorism related programs, and blasted unsatisfactory responses from the companies, and called for them work more closely with law enforcement to prevent the spread of terrorist content on their platforms.


Along with Chairman Thompson, Rose’s Raising the Bar Act is co-sponsored by Representatives Yvette Clarke of New York, Kathleen Rice of New York, Lauren Underwood of Illinois, Donald Payne, Jr. of New Jersey, and Elissa Slotkin of Michigan. The legislation is also endorsed by the Coalition for a Safer Web, Counter Extremism Project (CEP), Global Intellectual Property Enforcement Center (GIPEC), NAACP, and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). 

Bill text HERE. Fact sheet HERE. How it Works HERE.


Press Contact

Jonas Edwards-Jenks at (202) 225-3371