WASHINGTON, D.C. — Last week, members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) went public with letters sent on January 14 to the CEOs of Meta (formerly Facebook), Twitter, YouTube, and TikTok “respectfully requesting a meeting” to discuss Spanish-language misinformation on their platforms.
“Addressing Spanish-language misinformation Facebook must remain an urgent
priority,” said the letter to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg signed by 22 of the 38 member caucus.
“Many federal and state agencies, Members of Congress, and public health organizations rely on platforms like Facebook to communicate life-saving health information and share federal resources during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
A spokesperson for the caucus told Latino Rebels on Friday that the companies have acknowledged receipt of the letters, but the requested meetings have yet to be scheduled with the four CEOs: Zuckerberg of Meta, Shou Zi Chew of TikTok, Parag Agrawal of Twitter, and Susan Wojcicki of YouTube.
“When it comes to misinformation campaigns on social media, as we’ve seen in past elections, and even when it comes to COVID, those information campaigns are allowed to fester and to spread,” Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-CA) told Latino Rebels on Wednesday. “That’s one of the biggest challenges we had trying to get our community to get vaccinated. We need to hold the social media companies accountable and bring them in and do it in a way that we can actually deliver some change.”
That double standard is dangerous and wrong.
— Joaquin Castro (@JoaquinCastrotx) January 22, 2022
Big social media companies including @meta and @youtube let people get away with misinformation in Spanish in a way that they don’t tolerate in English,” Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) tweeted on Friday.
“That double standard is dangerous and wrong,” he said.
Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY) said it’s time to bring the tech CEOs to Washington, potentially for a hearing on Spanish-language misinformation campaigns on their platforms. “I think we should bring them here,” said Espaillat on Wednesday. “We haven’t decided what forum it will be, but I think it’s serious enough where it should be some type of formal setting—not just like a pow wow, not like a formal meeting going to the CHC, but a formal hearing where they testify on the record.”
“I think the tech CEOs know what’s going on,” said Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ). “They make a profit off of it. Hopefully we can bring them here, but in the meantime they should just look at their own data and know that they are playing a big part in the misinformation happening.”
Gomez disagrees. “Left to their own devices, most companies don’t do what is in the best interest of the communities if it is against their own bottom line interest, and that’s what is always a concern,” he said.
“If it happened before, it can happen again,” said Espaillat, referring to targeted, Spanish-language misinformation that studies have shown helped put Donald Trump over the top in Florida and Texas during the 2020 election.
Pablo Manríquez is the Washington correspondent for Latino Rebels. Twitter: @PabloReports