Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), a member of the Senate Rules Committee and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, joined Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and 11 of their colleagues in a letter to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg expressing concern regarding Meta’s response to the rise of online election-related misinformation and disinformation on its platforms, including Facebook.
The letter comes in advance of the anniversary of the Jan. 6 insurrection, and follows reports and Senate testimony indicating that the company prematurely terminated misinformation and disinformation safeguards that were put in place in advance of the 2020 election.
This action allowed misinformation, disinformation, and violent rhetoric to return to Facebook immediately following Election Day and in the lead-up to the Jan. 6 insurrection, the letter states.
“While efforts to delegitimize election results and undermine our democracy continued and even intensified following Election Day, reports indicate that Facebook turned off election-related safeguards because the company was concerned that they could be limiting the growth of the platform,” the senators wrote.
“The controls demonstrate that Facebook clearly knew that its platform could be used to sow and promote discord, division, and incendiary content.”
The senators ask Meta to justify its decision to dial back post-election controls to curb disinformation and violent rhetoric and to explain its current work to guard against disinformation and violence on its platforms.
Padilla and Klobuchar were joined on the letter by Senators Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).