Tech Transparency Project: Capitol Attack Was Months in the Making on Facebook

Facebook suspended President Trump following the mob attack on Congress. But the platform allowed organizing for the pro-Trump rally, as well as the spread of conspiracy theories and militant extremism that drove the rioters.

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg made headlines for saying the mob attack on the U.S. Capitol was “largely organized” on other platforms, suggesting Facebook had done better than others at taking down dangerous content.

Not only is that assertion false, according to research by the Tech Transparency Project (TTP), but it ignores the fact that Facebook spent the past year allowing election conspiracies and far-right militia activity to proliferate on its platform, laying the groundwork for the broader radicalization that fueled the Capitol insurrection in the first place.

Read the report.

Social justice groups square off against Facebook

Corey Hill of Global Exchange and the Protest Facebook coalition praises the Stop Hate for Profit advertiser boycott and suggests we think of it as a first step. He proposes additional demands to stop the hate and lies on Facebook, such as getting rid of microtargeting, stopping lies in political ads, and refusing service to anyone trying to disrupt the 2020 election.

Read the article on Alternet.

Protect our Democracy. Protest Facebook.

Our election is at risk–in part because of Facebook

This year’s US presidential elections are in jeopardy—in part because San Francisco Bay Area technology company Facebook refuses to take responsibility for the lies, hate, and disinformation that are being spread using its platform.

Facebook refuses to take down advertisements by US politicians that feature even the most blatant falsehoods. It freely allows microtargeting that directs disinformation at vulnerable communities that is hidden from everyone else. And its efforts to stop the spread of toxic lies and hate are too little, too late.

Please join us to say enough is enough! Facebook must immediately prevent its platform from being used to spread disinformation and divisiveness that could disrupt our elections. We’re urging Facebook to:

Stop the lies in political ads

Facebook should fact check advertisements placed by politicians and political campaigns. In other words, it should hold these political ads to the same standards it applies to advertisements that are not placed by politicians. As Facebook employees said in an open letter to company leadership, “Misinformation shared by political advertisers has an outsized detrimental impact on our community.” If you or I lied in an advertisement on Facebook, it would immediately be taken down.

Prohibit political ad microtargeting

Right now political campaigns can target their ads so precisely that they can pinpoint them to reach specific voters. The problem with this, according to former Federal Election Commission Chair Ellen Weintraub, is that “false and misleading messages may be disseminated in a way that does not allow people with conflicting information to counter those messages, because they won’t see them.” Facebook already restricts targeting for industries with a history of discrimination, like housing. They should do the same with political ads.

Refuse service to anyone trying to disrupt the 2020 election

All businesses can refuse service to a person who violates their policies. Restaurants usually require patrons wear shoes and shirts. Facebook should require that users refrain from using the platform to disrupt the 2020 election. They can do this by implementing terms of service or acceptable usage policies that require users to follow certain rules about how Facebook can be used.

And more

There’s no dearth of ideas for how to reform Facebook to protect our democracy and our civil society. Facebook’s own employees have put forward an excellent set of recommendations that include spending caps for politicians and observing silence periods free from political advertisements before elections. Another strong set of recommendations was put forward by Change the Terms, which focuses on how the platform can enforce an acceptable use policy to prevent Facebook from being used to incite hate, fear and abusive behavior. Finally, a number of organizations make the case that the Federal Trade Commission should break up Facebook, which now has unprecedented power to decide what news and information billions of people around the world see every day.

Facebook moderators open letter

In June 2020, Facebook moderators published an open letter expressing solidarity with Black Lives Matter and objecting to Facebook’s lack of action against after President Trump posted a message threatening and inciting violence against Black Lives Matter demonstrators.

Read the letter on Medium.

Big Tech’s Big Defector

Roger McNamee made a fortune as one of Silicon Valley’s earliest champions. Now he’s one of its most fervent critics. This profile in the New Yorker explains how he came to believe that Facebook was being exploited to sow division among voters—and that company executives had turned a blind eye.

Op-ed: It’s time to break up Facebook

In this op-ed, Chris Hughes, a co-founder of Facebook, says that Mark Zuckerberg’s influence “is staggering, far beyond that of anyone else in the private sector or in government.”