Sen. Amy Klobuchar thinks social media companies should be fined for bot activity

Social media firms should be more accountable after Russian interference in the 2016 elections, she thinks.

What's happening?

Minnesota's senior senator, Amy Klobuchar, has been talking to NBC's "Meet The Press" about actions that could be taken against social media companies and the proliferation of "bot" accounts.

She told the show that fining companies like Facebook and Twitter for failing to get rid of "bots" identified by the government would be a "great idea."

"These are the most sophisticated companies in America," she said. "They have brilliant people working there. They’ve got to put more resources — maybe it means making less profits off of ads and other things — but they’ve got to put the resources into Facebook and Twitter to stop these bots from dominating the accounts."

Why the focus on bots?

It comes after indictments filed in the Robert Mueller investigation allege that Russian companies used fake, automated accounts on social media to influence the outcome of the 2016 elections.

This has continued since then, with Russian-controlled bot accounts weighing in on the gun control debate that emerged post Las Vegas and Florida massacres.

As NPR reports, these accounts are used to push and amplify extreme opinions and conspiracy theories on both the left and right.

In doing so, Russia is seeking to enhance division among Americans, undermining the country's democracy and political stability.

TechCrunch reports the indictments revealed bots ran alongside disinformation accounts, where Russian actors posed as Americans on social media, pushing extremist theories that would in turn be amplified by bot accounts.

What is social media doing about them?

You might have seen the hashtag #TwitterPurge on Twitter a few weeks ago – that was because Twitter had identified and was removing thousands of bot accounts.

Some of the more extreme voices on the social media noticed that their follower numbers had dropped as a result of said purge.

However given the time it took social media sites to come to grips with its bot problem, Klobuchar is among those who believe they should be punished for their inaction in the future.

She did however express doubts that such punishment would be forthcoming, telling NBC "you need a Congress to act and there are too many people who are afraid of doing something about this because we know these sites are popular."

The senator has herself been a proponent of a bill called the "Honest Ads Act" that demands politic ads sold online follow the same rules as those on TV and radio.

It comes after Facebook and other social media sites were found to have accepted payments from Russian sources for ads aimed at shifting opinion during the 2016 elections.

Next Up

Seimone Augustus

Lynx to retire jerseys of Seimone Augustus, Rebekkah Brunson next season

The former Lynx stars were a key piece of their four WNBA titles.

police tape, crime scene

Rushford police officer fires gun during report of a restraining order violation

The incident occurred on Highway 30 near the Rushford Municipal Airport.

lake water

18-year-old dies from drowning in Quarry Park

The incident is one of several drownings to occur in Minnesota in recent weeks.

Screen Shot 2021-06-13 at 8.28.44 AM

College pitcher from MN gets new prosthetic arm after his was stolen

A tough luck story turned out very positive for the Hawley native.

vaccine, covid

MN saw decline in routine child vaccinations amid pandemic

The CDC study looked at Minnesota and nine other states.


Child hospitalized after drowning in Ham Like

Their current condition is not known.


Man dies after falling from pontoon, being swept under boat

Friends believe he struck the motor while under the boat.


Man drowns in St. Croix River at William O'Brien State Park

It's not clear what caused the 46-year-old to go under.


Man, 66, dies after his ATV was hit by a minivan on highway

It happened in Renville County Friday evening.


How to detect 'bots' on social media

Watch out for generic replies, anonymous accounts and fast follows.

Amy Klobuchar wants Mark Zuckerberg to testify in Congress

It follows the social media giant's decision to ban Cambridge Analytica.

Amy klobuchar

Klobuchar: Maybe we should tax companies that sell our data

The senator floated the idea during an interview at SXSW.

Computer phone

Proposed bill would keep bosses out of your social media accounts

It would be a civil offense to demand an employee give you access to their private social media.

Watch: Al Franken loses his mind while quizzing Facebook lawyer about Russian ads

The senator shouted at Facebook's lawyer about ads bought with Russian roubles.