Meta’s Threads Needs a Policy for Election Disinformation, Voting Groups Say
The new social media site Threads is less than a month old and it has already amassed tens of millions of users. Facebook parent Meta launched the Twitter-rival earlier this month and it’s quickly become a place where people can follow celebrities, news organizations and politicians.
This has some voting rights groups worried. That’s because Threads is yet to outline a plan to curb election disinformation on the site.
Vote.org, one of the largest get-out-the-vote organizations in the country, sent a letter to Meta asking that it “release a robust plan to ensure the platform has strong election policies in place from the start.” The letter was co-signed by 11 other voting rights groups, including End Citizens United, RepresentUs and Public Citizen.
“If you have that many people, you have a great responsibility to the people that are on the platform,” said Andrea Hailey, CEO of Vote.org. “What we’re asking for here is a real plan, knowing that we’re only a few months out from presidential primaries, and that very soon the presidential election will be on our doorstep.”
The voting rights groups say they have cause for concern. During the past few elections, disinformation involving voter registration, polling places and political candidates was rampant on social media. In 2018, the Cambridge Analytica scandal exposed howthat company used Facebook to target and manipulate swing voters. And in 2020, mentions of “stolen election” and “voter fraud” skyrocketed after Joe Biden won the presidency.
“Misinformation, like social media itself, has gotten considerably more sophisticated,” said Bond Benton, communications associate professor who studies misinformation at Montclair State University. “There are ways that you can manipulate and game the system to get misinformation seen by a lot of people very rapidly. And if you’re not investing to prevent and curtail that, it’s going to find its way through.”