Civic Groups Call on Facebook and Google to Support Honest Ads Act and to Take All Steps Necessary to Prevent Russia from Using their Platforms to Sabotage Future U.S. Elections

In letters sent today to Facebook President and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google leaders Larry Page, Sergey Brin and Sundar Pichai, more than 15 civic groups and experts strongly urged them “to take all steps necessary to ensure” that Facebook and Google are “never again used as a vehicle for foreign interests to interfere with U.S. elections.”

The letters stated:

We urge you to endorse the Honest Ads Act pending in Congress. We also urge you to take all steps necessary within your organization to prevent citizens from being misled and manipulated by foreign intervention in future U.S. elections.

We also urge you to work with members of Congress to ensure that the most effective new laws are enacted and the most effective technical practices are put in place to protect our elections and our democracy from future foreign interference and sabotage.

According to the two letters:

It is incontrovertible that Russia intervened in the 2016 presidential election in an effort to sabotage the election and our democracy. It is also clear that [Facebook and Google] unwittingly facilitated these sabotage efforts by serving as platforms for Russian cyber-attacks on the 2016 presidential race.

The letter to Facebook CEO Zuckerberg stated:

The Facebook community has the right to know when Russia is using Facebook in an effort to deceive, mislead and manipulate the votes of the U.S. members of the community.  Facebook has an obligation to provide this information to the Facebook community and to the public.

Given these circumstances, it is incumbent upon Facebook to use all of its technological expertise to ensure that it is not used by Russia or any other foreign interest to undermine the integrity of U.S. elections in the future.

Solving these problems requires Facebook to play a critical role in exposing, and where possible preventing, Russian or other foreign intervention in our elections.

Similar statements were made in the letter to Google’s leaders.

According to the letters, while Facebook and Google obviously had “no desire to harm our democracy,” without their use as vehicles “for disseminating false, inflammatory and manipulative information, Russia could not have done as much damage as it did to our elections and our political system in 2016.”

The letters stated that Facebook and Google “have a responsibility to the American people to take all steps necessary to ensure that [they are] never again used by Russia, or by any other foreign interest, to manipulate U.S. elections.”

Find the full letters to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg here and to Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin and CEO Sundar Pichai here.

Signers of the two letters are:

Campaign Legal Center

Carole Mundy, Ethica Media/Political Transparency Project

Center for Digital Democracy

Common Cause

CREW

Democracy 21

End Citizens United

Every Voice

Free Speech for People

Issue One

Norman Eisen, chief White House ethics lawyer for President Obama, 2009-2011

Norman Ornstein

People for the American Way

Revolving Door Project

Richard Painter, chief White House ethics lawyer for President Bush, 2005-2007

Sunlight Foundation

U.S. PIRG

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Attachments: (2 total)