WASHINGTON – The CEOs of Facebook and Twitter are being summoned before Congress to defend their handling of disinformation in the 2020 presidential election, even as lawmakers questioning them are deeply divided over the election's integrity and results.
Prominent Republican senators have refused to knock down President Donald Trump’s unfounded claims of voting irregularities and fraud, even as misinformation disputing Democrat Joe Biden's victory has flourished online.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, a close Trump ally who heads the Senate Judiciary Committee to which the CEOs will testify Tuesday, has publicly urged, “Do not concede, Mr. President. Fight hard.”
Both Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey promised lawmakers last month that they would aggressively guard their platforms from being manipulated by foreign governments or used to incite violence around the election results — and they followed through with high-profile steps that angered Trump and his supporters.
Twitter and Facebook have both slapped a misinformation label on some content from Trump, most notably his assertions linking voting by mail to fraud. On Monday, Twitter flagged Trump's tweet proclaiming “I won the Election!” with this note: “Official sources called this election differently.”
Facebook also moved two days after the election to ban a large group called “Stop the Steal” that Trump supporters were using to organize protests against the vote count. The 350,000-member group echoed Trump’s baseless allegations of a rigged election rendering the results invalid.
For days after the election as the vote counting went on, copycat “Stop the Steal" groups were easily found on Facebook, with one nearing 12,000 members as of last week. As of Monday, Facebook appeared to have made them harder to find, though it was still possible to locate them, including some groups with thousands of members.
Facebook didn't immediately respond to a request for information on its specific actions currently toward such groups.