Jayapal and Cicilline Urge Facebook to Take Immediate Steps to Ensure the Safety and Fairness of Elections While Curbing Suppression Efforts by White Supremacists, Neo-Nazis, Right-Wing Militias and Other Hate Groups
WASHINGTON — U.S. Representatives Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) and David Cicilline (RI-01) sent a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg today, urging the company to take immediate steps to ensure the safety and fairness of the upcoming elections while curbing suppression efforts by white supremacists and other hate groups. The members of the House Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee specifically called on Facebook to stop the spread of election-related misinformation on their platforms and to make an adequate investment in staff with expertise in dealing with white supremacists, neo-Nazis and right-wing militia groups. The lawmakers also urged the company to actively and consistently enforce rules that have already been created to curb election suppression activities by these hate groups. The Representatives requested a response no later than Oct. 12.
“The President’s actions have emboldened white supremacists, neo-Nazis, right-wing militia groups and their supporters who often turn to Facebook to spread rumors and misinformation about the election,” said the lawmakers in their letter. “With the election less than 40 days away, the lack of concerted action by Facebook to address this threat to our democracy is a grave concern. We are at the precipice of a democratic crisis, and Facebook must take all immediate steps within their power to avert this crisis.”
The lawmakers’ letter outlines five specific actions that Facebook must immediately take to ensure the safety and fairness of the upcoming elections:
- Consistently enforce Facebook’s existing policies banning voting interference for all Facebook users—including for the President of the United States and other elected officials
- Immediately remove posts, groups and event pages that are planning or promoting white supremacist violence, voter suppression or misinformation
- Ban white nationalist and hate groups from using Facebook to organize events promoting violence, election interference, or voter suppression. In particular, this ban should also prohibit the use of events pages to engage in intimidation at polling stations
- Rigorously enforce the existing ban on calls to action to bring weapons to places such as polling places, and locations used to count votes or administer an election—including enforcement of the policy for Facebook events pages
- Hire specialists in white supremacist violence and hate groups to Monika Bickert’s content policy team
Today’s letter follows the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) releasing a draft report stating that white supremacist extremeists will remain the most persistent and lethal threat through 2021. Hate groups have repeatedly used Facebook and its family of apps to organize violent events, which have even resulted in the deaths of racial justice protesters. Just last month, two people were murdered in Kenosha, Wis. after a militia made plans to commit violence against protesters using a Facebook event page.
Many of the lawmakers’ demands have been repeatedly made by civil rights organizations across America including Stop Hate for Profit, Color of Change and Muslim Advocates.
The full letter can be found here.