During the heat of the 2020 election, those working on Joe Biden’s presidential campaign frequently warned Facebook about violent rhetoric related to the campaign on its platform. But a series of emails obtained by CNN show that the social media giant brushed them off sometimes.
The cache of emails outlines just how tensed Democrats had become about the misinformation on the platform as election day approached, and moreover, how bewildered they were on receiving Facebook’s reply. The worry increased on January 6 when the violent insurrection at the US Capitol was planned on platforms such as Facebook. There is now also growing tension about the role the misinformation on Facebook can play in the 2022 midterm elections.
A pressing concern was the way former President Donald Trump and his family used the platform. In September last year, a Team Trump account uploaded a video where Donald Trump Jr unfoundedly claimed that the Democrats planned to cheat in the election with “millions of fraudulent ballots.” He also requested “able-bodied” people to form an election security “army” for his father.
On September 22, a senior Biden campaign official emailed Facebook stating their disappointment with the platform. “The fact that this video is still on your platform — and is being used to recruit some sort of, and I quote, ‘army for Trump’s election security effort’ — is astounding. It is impossible to reconcile this with any of the policies regarding voting and voter suppression that Facebook has released over the past 3 years and emphasized to us privately in several dozen conversations.” the email read.
In response, a Facebook official said the post did not violate the platform’s policies. So it couldn’t be removed. Chagrined, the Biden administration official replied, “We implore you to approach this problem with seriousness and a sense of mission. We have found that to be lacking thus far. If the effort and mental gymnastics undertaken to allow this post to remain on your platform were instead devoted to carrying out your acknowledged responsibility to democracy, we might see some progress.”