October 27, 2017

Reps. Watson Coleman, Cleaver Statement on Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey Response, Banning of Russian Backed Ads and Facebook Rollout of Ad Transparency Features

Today, Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman and Emanuel Cleaver, II released the following statement in response to a letter addressed to the lawmakers from Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and the company’s decision to ban Russia Today and Sputnik from buying ads on the network as well as the Facebook announcement of the site’s new advertising transparency features:

“We are encouraged that our advocacy and concern have led Twitter and Facebook to take greater responsibility for the content on their platform. While the evidence of hostile actors like Russia exploiting social media platforms to destabilize our communities has been overwhelming, the response by social media leaders up to this point has not followed suit.  This attention and action by executives at Twitter and Facebook is a small step in the right direction, to reassure the public that they have grasped the severity of this issue and are taking steps, incrementally, to counter any future risks. However, more work still needs to be done by social media platforms to combat on-line violent racial incitement and to seriously improve their hiring practices when it comes to racial diversity.”

Earlier this month, Watson Coleman sent a letter to Dorsey encouraging the CEO to take immediate action to combat manipulation of the platform spread racially divisive communications and take seriously the threat of foreign entities use of the site to undermine American democracy. Weeks later, the lawmakers, were among members of the Congressional Black Caucus to meet with, Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg to discuss allegations that Russian-backed agencies exploited the companies system to influence the outcome of the 2016 election through the spread of racial and discriminatory messaging.