Democrat O’Rourke Presses U.S. Social Media Companies to Combat Disinformation

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke’s campaign on Friday called on Facebook, Twitter and Alphabet’s Google to do more to fight disinformation ahead of the November 2020 election.

The campaign made its plea in letters to the companies after a false claim spread on social media this week that the gunman responsible for an Aug. 31 mass shooting in Odessa, Texas, had a sticker supporting O’Rourke’s candidacy on his truck.

In its letter to Twitter, the O’Rourke campaign pointed to an account with the handle @suemo54 and name Sue Moore, which posted the claim on Sunday. It has been retweeted more than 11,000 times since then.

O’Rourke’s campaign manager, Jen O’Malley Dillon, said in the letters that the campaign thought a network of bots on Twitter and Facebook amplified the false claim.

“This isn’t our job to clean up: it’s theirs,” she wrote on Twitter, calling for increased transparency into misinformation on the sites and for Twitter to start labeling false content of public importance.

“Our democracy depends on these platforms managing the crisis of disinformation. We’re aware they’ve all made efforts to improve. We are saying these efforts have been insufficient,” O’Malley Dillon wrote.

Twitter declined to comment on the matter.

Twitter users trying to access the @suemo54 account on Friday were shown a warning that it was “temporarily restricted” due to “unusual activity.” The tweet could still be viewed, however.

The nonpartisan FactCheck.org website on Friday debunked the claim. It cited Sergeant Oscar Villarreal, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety, as saying “there was no sticker” on the gunman’s car and that he was not aware of the gunman’s political preferences.

The Texas Department of Public Safety did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

O’Rourke has taken an increasingly vocal stance on the campaign trail against gun violence in the wake of recent mass shootings, including one that killed 22 people on Aug. 3 in El Paso, Texas, which he used to represent in Congress.

A Facebook spokesman said the company had taken action through its fact-checking program by limiting the distribution of a post spreading the sticker claim that had been shared 42,000 times. It also added the FactCheck.org piece as a “related article” below the post.

The O’Rourke campaign’s letter to Google pointed out that terms like Odessa and the shooter’s name were trending queries related to its candidate on the search engine after the misinformation was published. A Google spokeswoman told Reuters that its search function is not a recommendation system and so a “trending” query in Google Trends does not mean that the site is recommending a topic to users.

The letters come just days after federal law enforcement met with Facebook, Twitter, Google and Microsoft at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California, to discuss collaboration over election security strategies.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Culliford; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Cynthia Osterman)

Responses

  1. How pathetic! ….at least 11 IJR readers don’t want to stop being mislead??? MAKE AMERICA SANE AGAIN!

  2. If the media honestly did what BS-spewing “Beto” proposes, it would shut down the campaigns of every Dem running for President.

  3. It’s hilarious how people who hold government positions and were eligible to attain the presidency constantly refer to our form of government as a democracy. We aren’t a democracy we are a Democratic republic and the fact they either don’t know this or don’t care enough to be accurate alone should be enough to bar them from any office.

    1. They only wish it was a democracy so the country would be run by the mobs in NY, CA, etc.

      FYI, we’re a constitutional republic. Congo is a “democratic” republic, though it’s really socialist.

  4. Combat Disinformation ,,,,, Ha ,, the demonRats / LibTurds manufacture that and Fake News. If nothing else , the election of President Trump has exposed them all for the hypocrites they are !!

    1. Searching for your logic. You do know Trump has racked up over 12,000 lies just since his inauguration? That, “it’s not a lie if it is what you want to believe” only makes sense in Trump World.

  5. This is kind of like Meet the Press where Chuck Todd refuses to allow anyone that hasn’t swallowed the coolade on ‘Man Made Global Warming’ on the show. Democrat media CONTROLLING what is broadcast. Communism anyone. Mao, Stalin, Hitler, Ho chi Minh, Kim Jong Un, Khmer Rouge, Pathet Lao, Saddam Husein, the Ayatollahs, etc. would be proud.

  6. In other words, they want all Conservative/Republican information and comments blocked and all Democrat/Liberal information and comments to be emphasized, kind of like what you get in Universities and on the MSM. Democrats want to make sure they CONTROL all information, CONTROL every aspect of your lives. The English tried this, didn’t work out so well for them.

    1. LOL….are you and your 14 up votes of the mindset that “all Conservative/Republican information and comments” are “misinformation”?? Seems an overestimate. If you require “misinformation” to make it thru the day, you might want to ask yourself WHY that is.

      1. Syphilis – Again with the lies. Nobody said all Conservative/Republican information was misinformation. That’s the excuse that Facebook and Twitter have been using to delete and block Conservative/Republican comments. The Liberal losers complain and Conservatives are blocked. They got caught at it. They’ve had to answer for it. They’ve been told that they have to readjust their criteria. Lying about it won’t make it go away.

  7. Then his loser BS should be the first to go. I thought he was in the negative numbers. Whose money is he spending now? Does he even have a job?

    1. You “thought” he was in negative numbers? What polls were you looking at and how does one even poll “in negative numbers”? Check out Real Clear Politics for his polling. Whose money is he spending? Check Open Secrets. Does he have a job? Ever heard of an internet search? Those are all questions that you and your up voters can easily answer—but it appears you would rather NOT know the answers.

  8. The best way to combat disinformation would be to shove a rubber plug in Beto’s mouth!

  9. Beto, now you know what Trump has gone through and continues to go through

  10. The ONLY reason Beta is taking this stance is because HE is the subject of misinformation. He’s said doodlysquat about others being targeted for misinformation, harassment, etc.

    This is reminiscent of the old NYC saying, “Everyone’s a liberal until they get mugged.” Welcome to the party Beta!

  11. …and in related news ThinkProgress is going bye-bye due to a lack of investors.

    I wonder if any of the now-unemployed staff will turn up here?

  12. Test
    Sorry but I never know.

    With social media these days no dissenting comments are allowed. It’s easy to win an argument if others can’t present theirs.

  13. Hey Bozo: What about the fake news media outlets – CNN, MSNBC, CBS, ABC, NBC, The Guardian, Reuters, NPR, PBS? Anyone who wants FACTUAL news and not a bunch of hyperbole has to go to FOX News.

  14. As if you can trust fact check. org with checking anything

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