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Media Contact: David Vance, National Media Strategist, 240-605-8600 or dvance@commoncause.org

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Media & Democracy 08.4.2021

Facebook Shutdown of NYU Ad Observatory Project Researchers Undermines Democracy

The project has been critical in shedding light not only on how politicians are targeting Facebook users, but also whether the platform is complying with its own political advertisement policies.

Media & Democracy 07.19.2021

New Report: How Lobbying and Political Influence By Broadband Gatekeepers Has Shaped The Digital Divide

A new report from Common Cause in partnership with the Communications Workers of America, “Broadband Gatekeepers: How ISP Lobbying and Political Influence Shapes the Digital Divide,” examines lobbying and political spending by the largest ISPs and their trade associations and how these activities have shaped the digital divide.

Media & Democracy 05.5.2021

Facebook Oversight Board Upholds Temporary Suspension of Trump, Exposes Flaws in Platform’s Content Moderation Policies 

Today, the Facebook Oversight Board announced its decision to uphold Facebook’s suspension of former U.S. President Donald Trump. Facebook’s decision to indefinitely suspend Trump’s account followed the former president’s actions, utilizing the platform to incite the violent and deadly January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. 

Voting & Elections 10.26.2020

Facebook Demands End to NYU Program That Has Exposed Social Media Giant’s Failures to Uphold Commitments to Safeguard Democracy

Facebook has demanded that New York University (NYU) shut down a research project that has been collecting data about the company’s ad-targeting practices. The NYU Ad Observatory, a project of the university’s engineering school, has recruited more than 6,500 volunteers - including many Common Cause members - to use a specially designed browser extension to collect data about the ads Facebook shows them. Facebook has informed NYU that the project violates provisions in its terms of service that prohibit bulk data collection from its site. The social media behemoth has threatened further enforcement action if NYU does not comply. In response, Common Cause has launched a petition drive urging the social media giant to let the program continue and instead shut down the rampant disinformation on the platform.

Media & Democracy 08.6.2020

Facebook & Twitter Remove Trump’s Misinformation on COVID-19 but Must Do More to Combat Election Disinformation and Voter Suppression 

Recent actions from Facebook and Twitter to remove posts from President Trump containing COVID-19 misinformation show that the platforms have much more work to do to combat attacks on our democracy including the spread of election disinformation and voter suppression. Facebook works with fact-checking organizations to review and rate COVID-19 related content, uses tools to downrank COVID-19 misinformation, and directs users to authoritative sources on COVID-19 information. At the same time, Facebook refuses to fact-check political ads despite containing deceptive information that could suppress votes. Twitter has responded to the spread of COVID-19 misinformation by revising its policy on what is considered harmful content and adding labels to tweets with misinformation about the virus. Yet, Twitter has not taken adequate action to consistently enforce and expand its election integrity policies when it comes to tweets from the President that contain election disinformation.  

Media & Democracy 07.16.2020

Twitter Hack Reveals Again Social Media Vulnerabilities and Dire Need for Oversight

‘Just trust us’ is no longer a viable or safe option for Twitter and other social media companies. Americans expect and deserve safeguards that protect their personal data and ensure companies take meaningful steps to mitigate harms when experiencing data breaches, particularly ones that pose a serious threat to public safety and the integrity of our elections.  The large-scale hack of high profile Twitter accounts reveals how security vulnerabilities on social media platforms can have serious threats  to our society. Yesterday’s Bitcoin scam had many victims, but it also raised the terrifying specter of the damage that might be done by a similar hack aimed at stirring social upheaval, insurrection, or upending the 2020 election. The episode again laid bare the insufficient defenses and oversight of the social media companies that can hold such sway in the public square. It also revealed the startling lack of transparency from the social media giants. No clear explanation of the hack or even its scope has been offered. And many of us who have been hacked have yet to be notified by Twitter.

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