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Facebook Under Fire After Its Response to Coronavirus Misinformation Makes Clear Company Could Do More to Combat Political Lies

"It's not about free speech. It's about money."

Public Citizen is demanding Facebook take more action to control misinformation on the platform.

Public Citizen is demanding Facebook take more action to control misinformation on the platform. (Photo: flickr/GostGo/cc)

Advocacy group Public Citizen is calling on social media giant Facebook to take the same action against political misinformation it has to lies about the coronavirus on the platform.

"Facebook makes the high-minded claim that it's protecting free speech by doing little about political misinformation," said the group. "What it's really doing is pandering to powerful political interests, particularly those with deep pockets, at the expense of the long-term health of the company and our democracy."

As Common Dreams reported Tuesday, Facebook is under fire for reports that company executives knowingly ignored warnings that its algorithm incites divisiveness as an engagement tool and refused to take action. 

"Facebook knows what it's doing, intentionally continues to cause harm to increase engagement and profit, and will never fix these problems themselves," said the group Freedom From Facebook and Google in response to the revelations. 

Public Citizen's call echoed those accusations of the company's complicity. 

"Facebook is a corporation that rakes in enormous profit selling ads," the group said. "Therefore, what types of ads are being sold, how they are performing, who is seeing them, who is paying for them, and what information silos they create for other ad revenue are all important to Facebook."

The group called on Facebook shareholders to hold the company accountable and demand that the platform make more clear which political ads are based in lies and misinformation. 

"When corporations have outsized influence over our elections, democracies lose," said Public Citizen. "Facebook should be in the business of promoting honest, robust civic discourse for the benefit of its users, shareholders, and democracies the world over."

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