On October 20, more than two dozen reform organizations came together to support the Honest Ads Act introduced by Senators Amy Klobuchar, Mark Warner, and John McCain. Now many of those same groups, including People For the American Way, are calling on Facebook President and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and the Google leadership team to endorse the legislation and take all steps necessary to prevent future foreign election intervention through their platforms. A copy of the Facebook letter follows below. Click to view and download the Google letter.
Dear Mr. Zuckerberg:
Our civic organizations and experts are writing to strongly urge you as the President and CEO of Facebook to take all steps necessary to ensure that Facebook is never again used as a vehicle for foreign interests to interfere with U.S. elections.
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 unwittingly facilitated these sabotage efforts by serving as a platform for Russian cyber-attacks on the 2016 presidential race.
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.
While Facebook obviously has no desire to harm our democracy, without its use as a vehicle 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.
As a citizen and as the President of Facebook, you and your company have a responsibility to the American people to take all steps necessary to ensure that Facebook is never again used by Russia, or by any other foreign interest, to manipulate U.S. elections.
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.
Signers of the letter are:
Campaign Legal Center
Carole Mundy, Ethica Media/Political Transparency Project
Center for Digital Democracy
End Citizens United
Free Speech for People
Norman Eisen, chief White House ethics lawyer for President Obama, 2009-2011
People for the American Way
Revolving Door Project
Richard Painter, chief White House ethics lawyer for President Bush, 2005-2007