Free Press CEO Jessica Gonzalez: “Facebook is amplifying lies and COVID conspiracy theories" to “millions of people per day”

Gonzalez: Facebook leaders “show no interest” in stemming “the flow of hate and lies across its platforms”

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Citation From the December 15, 2021, edition of CNN's New Day

BRIANNA KEILAR (CO-ANCHOR):  A top Facebook executive says users are to blame for consuming and believing misinformation that is spread on the platform. Listen.


KEILAR: Joining us now is the co-CEO of Free Press, Jessica Gonzalez. Jessica, what did you think of what you heard there?

JESSICA GONZALEZ: You know, I think this is just another play out of the Facebook PR playbook. Deny, deny, deny. Deny that its platforms are causing any harm. Deny that it has any control over the design of its systems that drive inflammatory and false content out to millions of people. Deny that they're making decisions about content moderation every single day with impunity.

Sure, of course, people have the right to speak online. The government should not infringe upon that. But the truth is that Facebook is amplifying lies and COVID conspiracy theories to the tune of millions and millions of people per day. And they're doing that in a really targeted and strategic way. They are tracking our every move. They are collecting our personal and demographic data, and then they're driving content to us based on our perceived interests and vulnerabilities. So, you know, that includes COVID conspiracies. And this business model isn't just creepy, it's actually contributing to the death toll. So, when I see this kind of comment and I know that as bad as this problem is in English, it is even worse in Spanish and other non-English languages, I'm really disappointed.

We heard from Frances Haugen that Facebook has all the tools and the resources to fix these targeted conspiracy theories and that it just doesn't want to. So this cavalier attitude in the same week that we have hit 800,000 COVID deaths in this country shows a real callous disinterest in Facebook understanding and stemming its own role. Sure, we can't control people, but Facebook has a role that is separate and apart from that, that is driving the flow of hate and lies across its platforms. They show no interest in stemming that. And that's why at Free Press, we have been calling on Congress and the Federal Trade Commission to take action.