Biden Campaign Blasts Facebook As 'Foremost Propagator' of Lies About Voting

The Biden campaign has accused Facebook of being the "foremost propagator" of voting disinformation in the country.

In a letter sent to billionaire CEO Mark Zuckerberg this week, obtained by Axios, Biden campaign chief Jen O'Malley Dillon blasted the social media giant for failing to remove or adequately label content posted by the president and his re-election team.

"Rather than seeing progress, we have seen regression," Dillon wrote, arguing that the site had already failed in its pledge to stop the spread of false voting claims.

The letter cited a video posted to Facebook by Donald Trump Jr. on September 22 that included an unsubstantiated claim that the "radical left" was planning to "add millions of fraudulent ballots that can cancel your vote and overturn the election."

We need you to join ARMY FOR TRUMP’s election security operation!

The Radical Left is laying the groundwork to steal the 2020 Election from our president.We need you to join ARMY FOR TRUMP’s election security operation!VISIT:

Posted by Team Trump on Monday, September 21, 2020

Facebook put a label under the video that contained a link to accurate information, but concluded it ultimately did not violate policy—leaving the clip accessible.

"No company that considered itself a force for good in democracy, and that purports to take voter suppression seriously, would allow this dangerous claptrap to be spread to millions of people. Removing the video should have been the easiest of easy calls under your policies, yet it remains up today," Dillon wrote in the letter.

The correspondence also complained how posts by the president had been flagged but not removed, despite containing false claims about ballots. Trump has repeatedly used social media profiles to suggest that mail-in ballots are wide open to fraud.

On September 3, Trump used Facebook to encourage anyone relying on mail-in ballots to go to the polls and vote again unless it can be proven their choice was counted.

On Monday, Trump posted on Facebook: "The Ballots being returned to States cannot be accurately counted. Many things are already going very wrong!" The comment was flagged with a link to more accurate voting information, but not removed.

Zuckerberg announced this month that Facebook would be expanding its suppression policies before the election to include "implicit misrepresentations about voting."

The US elections are just two months away, and with Covid-19 affecting communities across the country, I'm concerned...

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday, September 3, 2020

"We will attach an informational label to content that seeks to delegitimize the outcome of the election or discuss the legitimacy of voting methods, for example, by claiming that lawful methods of voting will lead to fraud," he said. "This label will provide... authoritative information about the integrity of the election and voting methods."

But the approach isn't working, the Biden campaign says.

"Facebook's clear policies, which prohibit Mr. Trump and everyone else from posting such content, should stand in his way. But by now Mr. Trump clearly understands that Facebook will not hold him to their clear stated policies," Dillon wrote.

The letter said Facebook had "failed at every opportunity" to back up its commitment to fight disinformation and asserted the campaign would "be calling out those failures as they occur over the coming 36 days." Facebook has been contacted for comment.

The Biden campaign previously pushed a petition calling on Facebook to stop spreading posts from conspiracy theorists and to promptly remove false information.

A Facebook spokesperson told Newsweek: "While many Republicans think we should take one course, many Democrats think we should do the exact opposite. We've faced criticism from Republicans for being biased against conservatives and Democrats for not taking more steps to restrict the exact same content."

"We have rules in place to protect the integrity of the election and free expression, and we will continue to apply them impartially."

The political pressure on Facebook comes just one day after two U.S. Representatives, Pramila Jayapal and David Cicilline, sent their own letter to Zuckerberg.

It called on the CEO to better combat "suppression efforts by white supremacists and other hate groups" and stop the spread of falsehoods about the election.

"President Trump has repeatedly refused to commit to the peaceful transition of power, setting the stage for civil unrest," it said. "The President's actions have emboldened white supremacists, neo-Nazis, right-wing militia groups, and their supporters, who often turn to Facebook to spread rumors and misinformation about the [2020] election."

Joe Biden
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks at the Black Economic Summit at Camp North End in Charlotte, North Carolina, on September 23, 2020. This week, the Biden campaign accused Facebook of being the “foremost propagator” of voting disinformation. JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty