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Facebook, other social media sites pressured to protect census

Michael Macagnone, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in News & Features

Though social media remains a potential avenue for interference, Census Bureau officials still view those platforms as outreach partners.

This week, a group of 57 House Democrats, including Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., and acting Oversight and Reform Committee chairwoman Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y., called on Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to address misinformation on the platform.

"Misinformation campaigns to discourage any American, including targeted demographic groups, from participating in our national count would be an attack on our democracy with potentially far-reaching consequences for decades to come," they said in their letter.

Dorsey recently announced Twitter would ban political advertising on the platform. Last year the company launched a database of what it believed was all of the foreign operations launched on Twitter, which it has periodically expanded.

"The behavior is against our values as a company. For our part, we are learning, evolving, and building a technological and personnel-driven approach to combating it," a Twitter spokesperson said.

The plan Zuckerberg promised last month has been in the works for months. Facebook's Sandberg said in a June blog post the company would take the prospect of a census disinformation campaign seriously. The company promised updates in the fall about how it will handle census misinformation on its platform.


"That's why we're going to treat next year's census like an election -- with people, policies and technology in place to protect against census interference, Sandberg said in her blog post.

At a September Congressional Hispanic Caucus event, a Facebook spokesman said the company was looking to change its algorithms to better address misinformation and disinformation, which would be tied to upcoming policy changes.

And in October, the forum website Reddit hosted a series of AMAs, "ask me anything" posts, with census experts.

Representatives for Google, LinkedIn and other social media companies did not respond to requests for comment.


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