Schakowsky Reacts to Twitter’s Reversal on Policy that Protected Users from Disinformation

October 16, 2020
Press Release

EVANSTON –  Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, Senior Chief Deputy Whip and Chair of the Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, today reacted to news that Twitter was backing down from their initial efforts to stop the spread of disinformation:

“In the subcommittee I chair, I have been pushing a tech accountability agenda that puts the American people first this entire Congress. In contrast, President Trump and the Republicans have consistently pushed a political agenda that fuels disinformation and their narrow, short-term political interests.  

“The fact of the matter is that Twitter had rules against sharing articles containing personal email addresses and hacked emails, and they enforced them. While their lack of transparency on the matter was undoubtedly a problem, they should not have allowed themselves to be bullied into changing their rules by grumbling threats from desperate Republicans, thus opening itself up as a forum for foreign hacking and interference once again. Quite simply, Twitter’s message to Vladimir Putin late last night: ‘You’re back in the game.’

“Facebook has recently determined that it must have third-party reviews of the accuracy of articles before they can be amplified via Facebook’s algorithm. This demonstrates that, for the first time I can recall, Facebook is taking the role it plays in our democracy a little more seriously. And it does not, in any way, equate to censorship.  

“As it stands, both companies are doing too little to disincentivize ill-gotten gains from illegal activity such as hacking. That’s why the last 24 hours have done nothing to change my mind on the need for legislation that holds companies like Facebook and Twitter accountable. I still think both companies ought to have additional obligations placed on them that supersede Section 230 and ensure they live up to their commitments to consumers. Thoughtful reform should not be confused with recent Trump Administration efforts to threaten social media companies with Section 230 reform in the days before the election.  Such efforts are designed to silence fact checking and allow the spread of misinformation to continue.”