House Passes Legislation That Would Allow Justice Department To Demand Removal Of Social Media Posts

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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The House of Representatives passed legislation as part of the omnibus HR1 bill that would allow the Department of Justice to require social media sites to remove certain posts.

The Foreign Agent Disclaimer Enhancement (FADE) Act, originally introduced by Democratic Virginia Rep. Abigail Spanberger and Republican New York Rep. John Katko, was added as an amendment to the HR1 For The People Act on Wednesday night via a 223-208 vote. It requires social media sites to remove posts at the direction of the Attorney General, if the United States government determines that the posts do not identify that they were made by foreign agents, according to The Hill.

The FADE Act requires that disclaimers on “informational materials for or in the interests of a foreign principal which are transmitted or caused to be transmitted by an agent of a foreign principal” be included on social media sites with more than 50 million monthly users.

If the disclaimer is not included, the Attorney General must require the social media site to “remove such materials and use reasonable efforts to inform recipients of such materials that the materials were disseminated by a foreign agent on behalf of a foreign principal.”

“Issue campaigns, and content funded or directed by a foreign principal and intended to influence the American people, must be disclosed to the Department of Justice, but too often this rule does not extend to the world of social media,” Spanberger said in a floor speech.

“Foreign governments continue to exploit existing vulnerabilities in our national security including by influencing Americans directly and infiltrating public discourse without their knowledge,” she continued. (RELATED: Biden Recommended To Appoint ‘Reality Czar’ To ‘Tackle Disinformation)

The HR1 For The People Act passed in the House with 220 votes in favor and 210 votes against. No Republicans supported the bill, and only one Democrat opposed it. The bill was first introduced and passed by the House in 2019, but was unacceptable to Senate Republicans and then-President Donald Trump. The American Civil Liberties Union also opposed the legislation, saying that it would “unconstitutionally infringe the freedoms of speech and association.”

HR1 also allows the controversial practice known as “ballot-harvesting,” which allows third parties to collect and deliver absentee ballots to polling stations. Opponents allege that the practice can lead to voter coercion, forged signatures, and fraudulent ballots.