Left Menu
Development News Edition

Democrat O'Rourke presses U.S. social media companies to combat disinformation

Reuters | Washington DC | Updated: 07-09-2019 06:05 IST | Created: 07-09-2019 05:39 IST
Democrat O'Rourke presses U.S. social media companies to combat disinformation
Image Credit: Flickr

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.

Also Read: Texas mass shooting gunman known to police



Post-COVID-19 Nigeria needs a robust Health Management Information System to handle high disease burden

Nigeria is among a few countries that conceptualised a health management information system HMIS in the early 90s but implementation has been a challenge till date. Besides COVID-19, the country has a huge burden of communicable and non-com...

Morocco COVID-19 response: A fragile health system and the deteriorating situation

Learning from its European neighbors, Morocco imposed drastic measures from the initial stages of the COVID-19 outbreak to try to contain its spread. The strategy worked for a few months but the cases have surged after mid-June. In this sit...

COVID-19: Argentina’s health system inefficiencies exaggerate flaws of health information system

You can recover from a drop in the GDP, but you cant recover from death, was the straightforward mindset of Argentinas President Alberto Fernndez and defined the countrys response to COVID-19. The South American nation imposed a strict...

Rwanda’s COVID-19 response commendable but health information system needs improvement

Rwanda is consistently working to improve its health information system from many years. However, it is primarily dependent on the collection and reporting of health data on a monthly basis. Besides, evaluation studies on Rwandas HIS publis...


Latest News

PM to chair COVID review meeting with CMs of seven high-burden states

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will chair a high-level virtual meeting with chief ministers and health ministers of seven high-burden states on Wednesday to review the COVID-19 situation. These states are Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnatak...

We expected Cong to oppose such ‘unruly’ behaviour by Opposition members in Rajya Sabha: Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

We expected Cong to oppose such unruly behaviour by Opposition members in Rajya Sabha Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad....

Pawar to fast for a day in solidarity with 8 suspended MPs

NCP chief Sharad Pawar said he is observing a day-long fast on Tueaday to protest the suspension of eight Rajya Sabha members of the Upper House. The MPs were suspended for the remaining part of the current session over their misbehavior wi...

Mi Power Bank 3i with 18W fast charging launched; price starts at Rs 899

Xiaomi today launched the 20000mAh Mi Power Bank 3i and 10000mAh Mi Power Bank 3i in India. The new Mi Power Bank 3i comes with smart power management, dual input ports and supports 18W fast-charging.The 10000mAhMi Power Bank 3i is availabl...

Give Feedback