Schakowsky to Facebook: Protect Your Users from Disinformation

October 7, 2020
Press Release

EVANSTON – Today, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, Senior Chief Deputy Whip and Chair of the Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, sent a letter to Mark Zuckerberg, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Facebook, seeking answers regarding third-party fact checkers and efforts to the spread of disinformation. Specifically, the Congresswoman expressed concern around recent reports of teenagers being hired and paid by right-wing groups to post and share information on the platform.

The letter reads, “thousands of posts were identified by the Washington Post with nearly identical language. These posts were sent at the direction of Turning Point Action, an arm of Turning Point USA, by teenagers paid for their participation. According to reports, some of the teenagers, including minors, worked as independent contractors from an office in Phoenix, Arizona, and were paid an hourly rate. However, the teenagers never disclosed their paid relationship with Turning Point Action or Rally Forge, the company running the campaign for Turning Point.”

She continues, “I am also concerned by reports of unequal or preferential treatment of certain publishers. Facebook employees reportedly have interceded with third-party fact checkers on behalf of certain right-wing pages. Such actions are not consistent with Facebook’s official fact-checking program policy, which provides that independent fact-checkers—not Facebook—should resolve disputes over their ratings. Additionally, Facebook employees have intervened to remove misinformation strikes—used to track repeated violations—against some publishers, allowing them to avoid enforcement actions or be removed from the platform.”

The letter poses several specific questions and requests a response from Facebook by October 21, 2020. A copy of the full letter can be found here.