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Dingell Presses Facebook on Inconsistencies of Content Moderation Control

Dingell heard from constituent who claims their Facebook account was wrongfully suspended after they posted about people wearing masks in public, while other violent threats were left up on the social media platform

Washington, June 26, 2020

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI) sent a letter to Facebook asking for clarification on the social media platform’s determination process for content moderation. Dingell emphasized the content moderation process must not wrongfully delete or suspend accounts that have adhere to Facebook’s community guideline standards. 

“Why does someone saying people will die because they aren’t wearing mask earn them a week suspension from Facebook, but when someone talks about their guns in relation to a community gathering that does not violate anything,” said Dingell. “The rules are confusing, not transparent, incomprehensible and not consistent. There needs to clear, concise guidelines that everyone can understand why or why not they are appropriate.”

Dingell asked Facebook a series of questions on the process used when determining if a Facebook post should be removed, as well as what warrants a Facebook account to be suspended.

A copy of Dingell’s letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is available here or below:

Dear Mr. Zuckerberg, 

Now more than ever before our lives are lived online.  A global pandemic has seen to it that we must be physically distant from one another, and while we might be far apart many have taken to your platform as a way of staying connected.  We’ve kept in touch with loved ones and stayed plugged in to our communities and your platform is playing a vital role in allowing people to keep in touch with friends and family during these trying times. 

This is why it is so important that when it comes to content moderation, you practice what your terms of service spell out.  A constituent recently reached out to me letting me know they had a post removed and had their account suspended for a week after stating “anyone who does not wear a mask is an idiot.” While another post directing violence through the use of firearms was not touched. This is just an example, of which there are countless others.  

Our country is at a crossroads, one where collective action can help us defeat a pandemic.  We need to be able to share our opinions and thoughts without fear of reprisal and violence for addressing an ongoing public health crisis, and as we head closer to the 2020 election, these issues will only increase.

With that I would like to ask you a few questions and appreciate your timely response.  

  1. What type of content warrants a week-long suspension according to Facebook’s terms of service? 
  2. What type of oversight goes into a decision to suspend an account?
  3. Are decisions involving account suspension automated or is there human review? 
  4. Is there an appeals process for individuals who have been wrongly suspended? 
  5. When making content moderation decisions, does Facebook consider the larger political ramifications of removing content? 
  6. How is Facebook working to make content moderation policies more transparent and uniform? 

Thank you and I look forward to your response.

Sincerely, 

Debbie Dingell

Member of Congress

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