Consumer, privacy groups urge Zuckerberg to hire Jimmy Carter as election monitor

Consumer, privacy groups urge Zuckerberg to hire Jimmy Carter as election monitor
© Getty

A coalition of consumer and privacy groups is asking Facebook to stop contributing to political candidates and use Jimmy Carter’s election monitoring group to audit the platform’s campaign advertisements.

Six groups said in a letter on Wednesday that Facebook has a conflict of interest in advocating for certain policies and contributing to candidates, while simultaneously promising to protect the integrity of elections around the world.

“Our request is simple: a company whose platform is self-admittedly powerful enough to influence elections, must stay out of them,” they wrote to Facebook chief executive Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergThe free-market case for a clean slate Facebook takes down anti-NATO pages linked to Russia Congress needs to address consumer data privacy in a responsible and modern manner MORE.

The letter was signed by groups including Consumer Watchdog, the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the Center for Digital Democracy.

They expressed concerns about reports that the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, which had been contracted by President TrumpDonald John TrumpSunday shows preview: Shutdown negotiations continue after White House immigration proposal Rove warns Senate GOP: Don't put only focus on base Ann Coulter blasts Trump shutdown compromise: ‘We voted for Trump and got Jeb!’ MORE's 2016 campaign, had improperly obtained data on 50 million Facebook users and about the possible effects it may have had on the election. Cambridge Analytica has denied that the Facebook data was used to help Trump’s campaign.

The coalition proposed that Facebook tap an election monitor like the Carter Center, founded by the former president, to ensure that user data is not being used improperly for election ads and “so that the world can be sure Facebook is not divulging personal information to allow psychographic profiles to individually target voters.”

The groups also urged Facebook to refrain from contributing to political candidates, given the influence it holds over voters, noting that the company had given $4.6 million to federal candidates in 2016.

“If Facebook is committed to protect electoral integrity worldwide, it must be an impartial, neutral platform,” the letter reads. “A company that can influence the course of history by changing the outcome of an election, must put as its highest priority, total transparency, integrity and impartiality.”