December 4, 2021


Future Technology

Schiff asks Google, Twitter to crack down on COVID-19 misinformation like Facebook does

Image by Pixabay/Illustration by CNET
For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.

Congressman Adam Schiff has a message for Google and Twitter — it’s time to follow Facebook’s example.

Specifically, the California Democrat and Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee penned letters to Google, Twitter and YouTube requesting that they do more to counter harmful misinformation regarding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Each platform has grappled with the circulation of misleading or outright fake content surrounding the coronavirus, but unlike Facebook, they haven’t instituted policies that present the true facts for users who engage with that content.

“Facebook recently announced plans to display messages to any users who have engaged with harmful coronavirus-related misinformation that has since been removed from the platform and connect them with resources from the World Health Organization,” Schiff wrote in letters directed to Google’s Sundar Pichai, YouTube’s Susan Wojcicki and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, the CEOs of each company. “I urge you to adopt a similar practice for users and others who engage with harmful information on your platform.”

Schiff, who has previously criticized Google, Twitter and Facebook for being unprepared to combat misinformation, goes on to note that these are difficult waters to navigate for platforms that strive for open expression.

“I recognize the complex challenges that misinformation presents to online platforms,” Schiff writes. “As we all grapple with this unprecedented health situation, I hope you will consider this suggestion for keeping users better informed.”

The letters mark a rare moment of praise for Facebook from Congress, which has had a skeptical relationship with the platform since the Cambridge Analytica scandal put it at the center of immense controversy amidst the 2016 election.

Facebook declined to comment on the letters. Google, Twitter and YouTube haven’t yet responded to a request for comment. In recent weeks, Twitter has been actively working to remove misinformation on the platform that may speed the spread of the coronavirus. Google, meanwhile, pledged $6.5 million towards the fight against misinformation, while YouTube points out that searches for “authoritative news” have surged during the pandemic.

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