Democrat Joe Biden’s campaign has criticized Facebook for not removing false or misleading posts by President Donald Trump’s account. The president has used his social media channels to spread conspiracy theories about the presidential race, particularly about mail-in voting, which he insists would “rig” the general election.
“Earlier this month, Facebook committed to finally acting on its ‘responsibility to protect our democracy’ by ‘clearing up confusion about how this election will work’ and by ‘fight[ing] misinformation’ about how to participate. On the same day, Mr. Trump took to your platform to spread falsehoods about mail voting, and Facebook took no meaningful action. We were told then that Facebook was working to determine how best to apply its new, more aggressive approach,” reads a letter from Biden campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon. “Three weeks have now passed. Rather than seeing progress, we have seen regression. Facebook’s continued promise of future action is serving as nothing more than an excuse for inaction. Millions of people are voting. Meanwhile, your platform is the nation’s foremost propagator of disinformation about the voting process. This state of affairs cannot be reconciled with a single public statement your company has made about these issues.”
Dillon goes on to note that the Biden campaign was just one of many “responsible media voices and political campaigns throughout the country” that, for example, alerted Facebook of a political ad from Donald Trump Jr. asserting that the president’s opponents have a “plan to add millions of fraudulent ballots that can cancel your vote and overturn the election.”
“No company that considers itself a force for good in democracy, and that purports to take voter suppression seriously, would allow this dangerous claptrap to be spread to millions of people. Removing this video should have been the easiest of easy calls under your policies, yet it remains up today,” O’Malley Dillon writes, later going into greater detail about the president’s own false statements about mail-in voting and election security.
“We have watched with alarm in recent days as Facebook has attempted to portray itself as a passive actor, serving as a mirror of public sentiment–all while your algorithm actually serves as a force that shapes it,” she goes on to write, observing that “Facebook’s decision-making continues to be influenced by the preference and identity of those in office.”
“That is not empowerment of individual voices, which you say is the founding principle of Facebook; instead, it is catering to those who already have power. And it has nothing to do with free expression,” she writes. “As you say, ‘voting is voice.’ Facebook has committed to not allow that voice to be drowned out by a storm of disinformation, but has failed at every opportunity to follow through on that commitment. We will be calling out those failures as they occur over the coming 36 days.”
Alan is a writer, editor, and news junkie based in New York.