Calif. Attorney General Urges Social Media Companies to Stop the Spread of Election Disinformation on Online Platforms

The Equal Justice Society has been working throughout this year on efforts to combat voter suppression. We hosted a Voter Mobilization & Protection Summit on April 4, 2020, and continued to work with other organizations and share information to help everyone exercise our most fundamental democratic right.

On October 19, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra urged Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter to expand efforts to stop the spread of disinformation designed to harm the upcoming U.S. election on their platforms, saying the companies “should take responsibility for their role in spreading misinformation and voter suppression.”

EJS applauds Attorney General Becerra’s position on this issue and supports efforts to hold social media companies accountable for the dissemination of disinformation that is damaging our elections.

From 2014 through 2016, Russia initiated a coordinated effort to influence the outcome of the U.S. elections and undermine Americans’ confidence in the U.S. electoral system. Russian operatives posted erroneous articles and messages from fake accounts on a range of issues including politics and foreign policy, then amplified those illegitimate messages by “liking,” “commenting,” and “sharing.” These operatives and other malicious entities are now repeating these same tactics while also making them more sophisticated. They are pursuing broad disinformation and intimidation campaigns in an effort to suppress voting, particularly among African Americans and other historically disenfranchised groups. Foreign entities and others are discouraging voters by spreading misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic, attacking voting by mail, and by disguising the origin of disinformation by passing it through fringe news sites that, in turn, broadcast it to receptive audiences. Purposely providing misleading information about voting, and using threats or coercion to suppress voting, can violate a number of California election laws.

Read the full announcement here.