Democrats are pressing Facebook to take action on Spanish language disinformation on the platform spread by Russian state-owned media outlets.
The lawmakers sent a letter to Facebook Wednesday expressing concern for the company’s “lack of progress” addressing Spanish-language disinformation, which they said has been escalated by Russian state-controlled outlets making a “concentrated effort to target” Spanish-speaking communities to spread false narratives about the invasion in Ukraine.
“The viral spread of these narratives stands in stark contrast to assurances that Meta made to the public and Members of Congress that it is prioritizing the pressing needs of Hispanic communities in the United States,” they wrote, according to a copy of the letter shared with The Hill, referring to Facebook’s parent company, Meta.
Rep. Tony Cárdenas (Calif.) and Sens. Ben Ray Luján (N.M.), Bob Menendez (N.J.) and Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) led 17 of their Democratic colleagues on the letter.
Meta spokesperson Andy Stone said the company is running its “entire strategy on misinformation in Spanish.”
“We’re removing content related to the war in Ukraine that violates our policies, and working with third-party fact checkers to debunk false claims. When they rate something as false, we move this content lower in Feed so fewer people see it. We’re also giving people more information to decide what to read, trust, and share by adding warning labels on content rated false, and applying labels to state-controlled media publishers, including ones cited in the letter,” Stone said in a statement.
The letter cites a Foreign Policy report from February that tracked the proliferation of Spanish-language disinformation from Russian state-owned media sources, especially that which referenced Ukraine.
The report is based on an analysis from January, before Russia began its invasion into Ukraine and Facebook started to take additional action on Russian state-owned media.
“Facebook has continuously failed to show it is adequately addressing this problem for Spanish-speaking communities, and the success of Russian-sponsored outlets in crowding out the information ecosystem for Spanish speakers serves as proof to this fact,” the Democrats wrote.
They also criticized the tech giant for not mentioning Spanish-language disinformation and propaganda about the invasion of Ukraine in Facebook’s quarterly threat report released earlier this month.
“The spread of these narratives demonstrate that Meta does not see the problem of Spanish-language disinformation in the United States as a critical priority for the health of our democracy,” they wrote.
The letter builds on pressure Democrats have been putting on Facebook to combat Spanish-language disinformation about a range of topics, including on vaccine and health misinformation.
Updated at 11:27 a.m.
Author: Rebecca Klar