Sen. Ed Markey: Facebook Was Apparently Used to Plan Capitol Insurrection

Facebook sign at HQ
(Image credit: Facebook)

Concerned by reports that Facebook was used to help plan the January Capitol insurrection despite promises from the company to stop recommending political groups to users, Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) is demanding some answers from CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

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“Users organize and coordinate violent and anti-democratic efforts on these pages, but Facebook does not just allow these dangerous places to exist on its platform, it recommends them to users,” Markey said.

Markey points out that during a Big Tech hearing Oct. 28, Zuckerberg said the platform no longer recommended political groups (recommendations in general are a way to keep users on the platform as well as to try and match their interests), but reports suggest it is still doing so, including political groups that promote violence and target public officials.

"Facebook’s own internal research has found that the platform’s recommendation tools are responsible for 64 percent of all extremist group joins," Markey said.

In a letter to Zuckerberg, the senator said such recommendations "pose a grave threat to American democracy and public safety."

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He said the company has apparently failed to keep its commitments to him and other members of Congress, as well as its own users.

As a result, he said, he wants an explanation and a detailed review of the steps it has taken, is taking or will be taking to stop recommending political groups, and he wants it by Feb. 9.

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.