More than 100 prominent liberal groups are pushing the largest social media companies, such as Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, and Twitter, to moderate and censor more content on the grounds of countering "disinformation" ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.
Conservatives have been particularly fearful that such efforts would result in greater censorship of right-leaning content and Republicans. Some notable figures on the Right, such as former President Donald Trump and Steve Bannon, have been banned from major platforms for making statements that the companies say were inflammatory and encouraged violence through disinformation.
The liberal organizations, including Common Cause, a watchdog group; the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank; the NAACP; the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish civil rights group; and certain chapters of Planned Parenthood Votes sent a letter Thursday to the CEOs of tech giants, including Facebook, Google, Snapchat, and TikTok.
The groups called on the companies to take more aggressive steps to combat content meant to "confuse, intimidate, and harass voters, suppress the right to vote or otherwise disrupt our democracy."
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Some of the specific actions that the groups called for that could lead to greater censorship on major social media platforms include prioritizing enforcement to combat false claims that the 2020 election was stolen and fact-checking of political advertisements and posts from public officials.
"Policies must address content that calls for political violence, content that could inspire violence such as doxing and attacks on election workers, and content that attempts to delegitimize any past and future U.S. election," the left-leaning groups said in a letter to the tech CEOs.
"There should be a particular focus on enforcement of policies on users with large followings who often produce election disinformation that results in wide dissemination of this content throughout the platforms," they added.
Facebook and Twitter faced scrutiny in 2020 for suppressing news about emails taken from Hunter Biden's laptop on grounds that it was disinformation, but since then, multiple major news outlets have corroborated the original reporting on the controversy and confirmed that it was not.
Most major social media platforms already have several civic integrity or content moderation policies in place, but they are not consistently enforced and contain significant loopholes, the liberal groups said.
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The inconsistencies in the enforcement of their content rules enable a small number of highly influential individuals and organizations with significant reach "to repeatedly spread huge amounts of disinformation," the liberal groups said.