Facebook, Twitter Urged To Combat Misinformation Before Georgia Runoff

Democratic lawmakers are calling for Facebook and Twitter to beef up efforts to combat political misinformation in advance of Georgia's runoff elections that will determine which party controls the U.S. Senate.

“Facebook must expect an onslaught of the malign tactics of voter suppression and delegitimization seen in the Presidential election, and cannot backslide or regress in its moral and civic responsibility to protect our democracy,” Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut), Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Gary Peters (D-Michigan) wrote in a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

The lawmakers sent a similar letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

The letters go on to urge the companies to “build on” their efforts to combat election-related misinformation in the presidential election -- including restrictions on algorithmic amplification, adding context to trending topics, and limiting sharing of questionable material."

Blumenthal and the others say both companies should “learn from” their prior efforts and improve on them before the runoff, adding that misleading information spread on both services, despite the companies' efforts.

“Facebook should learn from its efforts and improve on them before the runoff, particularly given reports that internal analysis found that your labels of President Trump's false election claims have failed to significantly slow their spread,” the lawmakers said in the letter to Zuckerberg.

Buzzfeed reported last week that Facebook's labels didn't stop Trump's untrue posts from spreading on the service, according to internal discussions at the company. One Facebook employee reportedly said the labels decreased sharing by only 8%.

Blumenthal and the other lawmakers are asking both Zuckerberg and Dorsey to answer a host of questions by Monday, including what additional measures the company will take to clamp down on false information related to the upcoming runoff.

The senators also specifically ask Zuckerberg about Facebook's recent statement that it will extend a ban on new political ads until at least mid-December. Some critics have said that policy can favor incumbents.

The lawmakers are asking whether Facebook “considered the impact that its continued political ad ban will have on new elections like the Georgia special runoff elections,” and whether the company has considered alternatives, including banning ads relating to prior elections while allowing ads for the runoff.

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