Civil rights

Civil rights and democracy groups call on social media companies to tackle election misinformation

Eleven civil rights and democracy groups have sent out a new letter calling on social media CEOs to combat and stem the endemic problem of election misinformation ahead of the upcoming midterm elections, as advocates warn that they expect misinformation to increase as Election Day approaches.

Advocates have been calling on social media giants to do more to tackle misinformation for months. In May, 120 organizations called on platforms to do more to fight misinformation and on Thursday, the 11 organizations that sent the letter to the CEOs of Meta (Facebook), Twitter, YouTube, Snap, Instagram, TikTok and Alphabet claimed that “The platforms have simply rolled out essentially the same set of policies that led to the election misinformation disaster on social media two years ago.”

Hannah Emerson, 22, chief operating officer of an Ohio technology company, casts her ballot during primary voting, May 3, 2022, in Lordstown, Ohio.

Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

Advocates wrote that “narratives of misinformation about voting procedures and policies continue to proliferate, including misinformation about the use and safety of mail-in ballots, ballot boxes and ballot collection. vote”. They added, “False pre-emptive allegations of fraud are now spreading ahead of the election, and election workers are increasingly harassed online.”

This isn’t the first time advocates have expressed concern about misinformation, as several of the civil rights groups that signed the letter raised concerns ahead of the 2020 election. The organizations wrote to the CEO that ” disinformation around the 2022 midterm elections is inextricably linked to disinformation around the 2020 presidential election, with bad actors recycling many of the false claims made just two years prior.”

Additionally, advocacy groups have called on social media giants to focus and invest more in non-English disinformation. They noted in their letter that “all users should be able to use your platforms without being inundated with election misinformation, regardless of the languages ​​they speak.”

PHOTO: Voters line up to vote outside a polling place at North Christian Church in Cheyenne, Wyo., August 16, 2022.

Voters line up to vote outside a polling place at North Christian Church in Cheyenne, Wyo., Aug. 16, 2022.

Bloomberg via Getty Images, FILE

Meta told ABC News they invested in fact-checking and media literacy initiatives worth $5 million ahead of the November midterms. They have partnered with Telemundo, TelevisaUnivision and Reuters to launch Spanish-language fact-checking advice lines on WhatsApp and now offer free media literacy courses on SMS and WhatsApp to help teach individuals how to identify misinformation. The social media giant claims to have built the largest global fact-checking network of any platform and has over 90 fact-checking partners globally.

Snap told ABC News that Snap does not “give unverified content the chance to ‘go viral.’ Snap does not offer an open News Feed where people or editors can spread false information.” Ahead of the midterms, Snap says it has an internal process in place for sharing information and monitoring the effectiveness of its companies’ policies, ensuring they can calibrate their approach as needed.

Snap added that this “will help mitigate the risk of foreign interference in the election, we prohibit the purchase of political ads outside of the country in which the ad will be shown.”

ABC News has reached out to Twitter, TikTok and Alphabet, who have yet to return a request for comment.