Senator highlighted during Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing how cartels recruit teenage Arizonans for smuggling operations through social media
WASHINGTON – Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema examined social media’s impact on Arizona’s security during a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing. The Senator specifically highlighted how cartels utilize social media to recruit teenage Arizonans for smuggling operations.
“Every day, cartels post on social media platforms and recruit teenagers in Arizona to act as drivers for illegal operations. Lured by the promise of easy cash, these teens – some as young as 14 – then take their parents’ cars to the border and participate in smuggling and trafficking… The Department of Homeland Security must do more to crack down on dangerous cartels’ use of social media, secure the border, and keep Arizona families safe,” said Sinema, Chair of the Border Management Subcommittee.
Sinema focused her line of questioning on how the algorithms used by social media platforms can amplify and promote cartel-sponsored content. The Senator highlighted that the lives of innocent bystanders and migrants are put at risk when these recruited teenagers flee law enforcement at high speeds.
The Senator asked TikTok and Meta executives about what their companies are doing to prevent these harms and stop cartels from using their platforms to recruit teenagers along Arizona’s border. During the hearing, the Senator secured a commitment from Meta, Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube to share cartel content with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as quickly as possible.
Additionally, the Senator questioned representatives from TikTok, which is owned by a China-based company, about the real risk that the platform could alter its algorithm to promote or censor content on Beijing’s behalf – whether that means silencing voices critical of China or promoting conspiracies and extremist content. The Senator also pressed TikTok on whether it collects biometric data from Americans that could potentially be shared with China.