Decision Maker Response

Senator Jack Reed says Facebook should inform users exposed to Russian propaganda

Your activism matters. This morning, the demand of our petition was put directly to Facebook in a Congressional hearing. Here's what happened:

This morning on Capitol Hill, we took a copy of the petition to present to Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch, demanding that Facebook inform users exposed to Russian propaganda. In the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, Senator Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island) told Facebook he believed that was in fact warranted. Here's the full exchange between Senator Reed and Colin Stretch:

Senator Jack Reed: When you discovered a deceptive foreign government presentation on your platform, my presumption from what you've said today is that you will stop it and take it down, do you feel an obligation in turn to notify those people who have accessed that, and can you do that and shouldn't you do that?

Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch: Senator we feel an obligation as you say first to stop the activity, second to investigate it further, to fan out essentially from the account to make sure we're taking an expansive view of the investigation to try to capture any related activity, third to share threat information with the industry and with the government so that we can all do a better job and fourth to bring the issue to the attention of in this case this committee and the content itself we've said we're supportive of this committee making it publicly available. The question of reaching out to individuals who may have seen it is a much more difficult and complex one but we believe our commitment to transparency on this issue generally should address that.

Senator Reed: Well technically you could do that I presume or you could invest the resources to do it and as a result, frankly, reporting to us about the nefarious activities of Russia is not going to immediately translate to the thousands or apparently 126 million people who saw the message and thought it was legit. You have I presume the technical skill to do that... is that... and again apropos Senator Cornyn, you know you'll see in the newspaper we correct the statement we made the other day, it was wrong, or it was deliberately wrong, and I think you, given the first amendment, you can live with that, I hope.

Colin Stretch: I'm... I'm sorry Senator, could you repeat the question.

Senator Reed: Well the question goes back to having an obligation under the first amendment to notify people who you know who have been deliberately misled by a foreign government, not just us, not just law enforcement.

Colin Stretch: The technical challenges associated with that undertaking are substantial particularly because much of the data work underneath our estimate of the number of people who may have been exposed to this relies on data analysis and modeling; that said we do believe transparency in this area is important and we are supportive of making as much of this information available to the public as this committee deems warranted.

Senator Reed: I deem it warranted, for what that's worth.


Thank you for your support of this petition! Please continue to share it with your networks and advocate for transparency on this crucial issue. We must understand the attack against our sovereignty in 2016 so that we can prepare for the future!

December 6, 2017


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