Groups Deliver 130,000+ Petition Signatures Calling on the FTC & Congress to Investigate & Curb Facebook Profiting from Voter Suppression

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 30, 2020
Contact: Mark Stanley, [email protected]

Today, good government groups led by Common Cause and Demand Progress delivered more than 132,000 unique petition signatures to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the House Judiciary Committee, and the House Energy and Commerce Committee calling on the oversight bodies to investigate and take appropriate action to stop Facebook’s profiteering from voter suppression through demonstrably false political ads run on the social media platform. It is Facebook’s official policy to exempt political ads on its platform from third-party fact-checking. The result has been widespread dissemination of lies, misinformation, and disinformation.

The petition urges the oversight bodies to investigate Facebook’s active role in voter suppression through the dissemination of disinformation about voting and to examine the company’s policies and actions for potentially anticompetitive and unfair and deceptive practices as well as through the lens of consumer protection.

The petition emphasizes that President Trump’s re-election campaign has purchased hundreds of Facebook ads this year that spread disproven claims about voter fraud and points to the campaign’s ads last year that focused on debunked conspiracy theories about the president’s chief political rival Joe Biden.

“Facebook promised but never delivered reforms after Russian troll farms used the platform to spread disinformation on an industrial scale to help elect Donald Trump in 2016. Today, domestic actors exploit Facebook’s targeting tools and advertising policies to spread election disinformation, and the social media giant continues to profit from content designed to sway the 2020 election by discouraging people from voting,” said Yosef Getachew, Common Cause Media & Democracy program director. “Americans are tired of being lied to by Facebook, which is serving as a wholesale purveyor of disinformation and profiting handsomely from voter suppression. Facebook has made it abundantly clear that it will not effectively police itself, so we call on Congress and the FTC to hold the company accountable.”

“Time and again, Facebook brazenly reveals its danger as an out-of-control, largely unchecked monopoly. The fact it is allowing demonstrably false political ads designed to suppress the vote is the latest example of the threat the company poses,” said Mark Stanley, director of communications for Demand Progress. “It is past time the FTC and Congress aggressively investigate this and other harmful aspects of Facebook’s business model, through which it seeks to consolidate market power, addict users and profit off disinformation that directly imperils our democracy.”

“People everywhere are angry that Facebook is profiting by allowing candidates to place demonstrably false political ads that sabotage our democracy by spreading disinformation about vote-by-mail during a pandemic,” said Trent Lange, President of the California Clean Money Action Fund. “That’s why Clean Money supporters nationwide join everybody else in demanding that Congress investigate Facebook and take appropriate action to protect voters.”

The petition signatures were gathered this month by sponsors: California Clean Money Action Fund, Campaign for Accountability, Common Cause, Common Dreams, Daily Kos, Defend Democracy, Demand Progress, DemCast USA, Endangered Species Coalition, LeftAction, MAYDAY America, MediaJustice, Other 98%, People for the American Way, Progress America, RootsAction.org, Social Security Works, UltraViolet, Watchdog.net

To view the petition, click here.

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