Democrats urge tech CEOs to combat Spanish disinformation

A coalition of congressional Democrats is pressuring the CEOs of four social media companies to combat the spread of Spanish and other non-English language disinformation on their platforms.

Democratic Sens. Ben Ray Luján (N.M.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and Rep. Tony Cárdenas (Calif.) led 23 colleagues in sending letters to the CEOs of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Nextdoor requesting detailed information on content moderation policies for the top five languages users on the platforms encounter.

“Congress has a moral duty to ensure that all social media users have the same access to truthful and trustworthy content regardless of the language they speak at home or use to communicate online,” the lawmakers wrote.

Building pressure: The letter comes about a week after Klobuchar and Luján introduced a bill that would create an exception to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which provides tech companies a liability shield over content posted by third parties, for health misinformation related to an existing public health emergency.

And it adds to the mounting pressure platforms have been facing from the Biden administration specifically to combat COVID-19 misinformation.

Playing defense: “We have a strict policy against misinformation and take active measures to reduce the spread of misinformation. All reports of misinformation are sent directly to and handled by our trained Neighborhood Operations team,” a Nextdoor spokesperson said in a statement.

Asked for further comment on Spanish and other non-English language misinformation, a Nextdoor spokesperson told The Hill the platform’s “process and policies apply regardless of language” and that the company has “non-english content moderators.”

A Facebook spokesperson said in a statement that it is operating its “entire comprehensive strategy to combat COVID-19 misinformation in Spanish.”

YouTube spokesperson Ivy Choi said the company is still reviewing the letter but “in general” the platform’s policies “are global, and apply to all content across all languages and regions, including Spanish.”

A Twitter spokesperson confirmed the company received the letter and intends to respond.