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Rep. Paul Gosar. Photo: Paul Morigi/WireImage

House Democrats today presented a rules package giving the Ethics Committee a year to recommend how it will deal with members who disseminate false and unverified content on social media.

Why it matters: The Democrat-led Rules Committee changed its rules package after Republicans claimed an original proposal to make it an ethics violation for disseminating so-called deepfakes would infringe on their First Amendment rights. The package was being voted on today.

The backstory: Last year, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) posted a manipulated photo on Twitter purporting to show President Obama shaking hands with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Obama and Rouhani never met in person.

  • The real photo was taken in 2011, and it showed Obama shaking hands with then-Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
  • President Trump also shared a fake video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Facebook and Twitter purporting to show her slurring her words during a news conference.

Republicans publicly criticized the rule after House Democrats delivered a progressive rules package to launch the 117th Congress packed with ways to advance diversity and inclusion.

  • For the first time, it proposed a rule making it an ethics violation for members to disseminate unverified content. That rule was tweaked after the GOP complaints.
  • Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, the top Republican on the Rules Committee, said in a statement issued Saturday the rule was "rife with the possibility of abuse and likely to be enforced in a way that creates a double standard between the majority and minority."
  • And during a speech to present Nancy Pelosi as speaker Sunday night, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy chimed in with his own critique.
  • “They would penalize any member who shares news or views that liberals and their allies in the media deem 'fake,'" McCarthy said. "They actually make it an ethics violation — which is usually reserved for such unbecoming conduct as bribery and corruption."

What they’re saying: House Rules Committee Chair Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said in prepared remarks: “I’ll note that we initially planned to go even further — amending our Code of Conduct with this rules package — but we heard some of our colleagues’ concerns. We agreed to take a little more time to get the language just right.”

Editor's note: This post has been corrected to reflect that the manipulated photo Gosar posted on Twitter was of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (not Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani).

Go deeper

After impeachment, Trump says he "unequivocally" condemns U.S. Capitol violence

Photo: MANDEL NGAN via Getty

President Trump condemned political violence in a video Wednesday evening exactly one week after a pro-Trump mob breached the Capitol in a deadly siege, and hours after the House voted to impeach him for a second time.

Why it matters: The video, posted to the White House's official Twitter account, came as the president faces an impeachment trial in the Senate after 10 Republicans voted with House Democrats for impeachment.

Ina Fried, author of Login
1 hour ago - Technology

Scoop: Google is investigating the actions of another top AI ethicist

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Google is investigating recent actions by Margaret Mitchell, who helps lead the company's ethical AI team, Axios has confirmed.

Why it matters: The probe follows the forced exit of Timnit Gebru, a prominent researcher also on the AI ethics team at Google whose ouster ignited a firestorm among Google employees.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Joe Biden's COVID-19 bubble

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The incoming administration is planning extraordinary steps to protect its most prized commodity, Joe Biden, including requiring daily employee COVID tests and N95 masks at all times, according to new guidance sent to some incoming employees Tuesday.

Why it matters: The president-elect is 78 years old and therefore a high risk for the virus and its worst effects, despite having received the vaccine. While President Trump's team was nonchalant about COVID protocols — leading to several super-spreader episodes — the new rules will apply to all White House aides in "high proximity to principals."