House Dems Grill Facebook, Google, Twitter

Capitol Building

House Energy & Commerce Committee Democratic leaders have fired off new letters to the CEOs of Twitter, Facebook and Google as part of an investigation into Big Tech's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Also Read: Facebook Will Flag COVID-19 Myths for Users

The letters are in response to news reports of COVID-19 misinformation/disinformation on their platforms and are follow-up letters to ones they sent to the same CEOs back in July--Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter's Jack Dorsey and Google's Sundar Pichai-- expressing "deep concern about COVID-19 disinformation generally. The legislators pointed to the American Medical Association's warning last month to the companies to be on their guard against disinformation.

The House members, all committee or subcommittee chairs, are seeking the following:

1. "Details of all actions the companies have taken to limit false or misleading COVID-19 vaccine misinformation or disinformation on their platforms;

2. "Descriptions of all policy changes the companies have implemented to stop the spread of false or misleading COVID-19 vaccine misinformation, and how the companies are measuring the effectiveness of each such policy change;

3. "Whether the companies have used information labels or other types of notifications to alert users about COVID-19 vaccine misinformation or disinformation, and if so, the date(s) it first began implanting labels or notifications and how the companies are measuring its effectiveness;

4. "Details about the five common targeted advertisements that appear alongside COVID-19 vaccine misinformation or disinformation on the platforms;

5. "Details on the companies’ COVID-19 vaccine misinformation and disinformation enforcement efforts; and

6. "Whether the companies have coordinated any actions or activities with other online platforms related to COVID-19 vaccine misinformation or disinformation."

Also Read: Survey Finds Facebook Leading Misinformation Source

Sending the letters were Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.), Communications Subcommittee chairman Mike Doyle (D-Pa.), Health Subcommittee chair Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee chair Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), and Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee chair Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.)

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.