Lawmakers hope to crack down on disinformation targeting veterans

WASHINGTON — Lawmakers are working to combat foreign trolls targeting veterans and military personnel online with disinformation.

A report published by Vietnam Veterans of America found that the Russian Internet Research Agency bought more than 100 ads targeting followers of veterans accounts on social media sites during and after the 2016 campaign.

The House Veterans Affairs Committee recently held a hearing to discuss the report.

Congressman Anthony Brindisi, D-New York, said social media companies, including Facebook, have missed the mark on preventing the spread of false information.

“No one should be impersonating other people especially our veterans,” he said. “Companies, especially Facebook, have to do a better job of regulating this type of content.”

“Congress has been trying to work with the social media platforms to encourage them to do a better job of policing themselves,” he added.

The issue cuts through partisan divides, with both Republicans and Democrats agreeing that safeguarding veterans from disinformation is critical.

“As Attorney General of Missouri, this was a major focus of mine, fighting for veterans, protecting them from scams, protecting them fraud,” Senator Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, said.

Congressman French Hill, R-Arkansas, said regulating social media presents a tough challenge, but said following TV and radio political ad guidelines set by the Federal Election Commission could help.