O'Rourke presses tech companies to crack down on disinformation

O'Rourke presses tech companies to crack down on disinformation

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke is demanding answers from major tech platforms following an unsubstantiated claim online that the gunman involved in last weekend's mass shooting in Odessa, Texas, was driving a vehicle with an O'Rourke campaign sticker.

Jen O’Malley Dillon, campaign manager for the former House lawmaker from Texas, sent letters to Facebook, Google and Twitter on Friday asking for greater transparency about how the companies respond to disinformation on their platforms and calling on them to take action against any fraudulent accounts involved in amplifying the claim.

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“As a campaign, we’re almost entirely powerless to stop misinformation,” O’Malley Dillon wrote on Twitter earlier this week. “We can tweet corrections, but only a fragment of the people exposed will see it. This rests on Twitter, Facebook, and Google who let this go completely unchecked.”

Google and Twitter declined to comment to the Hill while Facebook did not respond to request for comment. 

O’Malley Dillon said she traced the initial claim about the campaign sticker to a tweet from an account that Twitter had suspended and then reinstated. The tweet alleging that the shooter had an O’Rourke sticker is still up and has garnered more than 11,100 retweets and 15,400 likes.

Texas officials have said that there is no link between the gunman and the O'Rourke campaign.

The campaign official on Friday suggested that the claim was amplified by a bot network seeking to smear O’Rourke.

In her letters, O’Malley Dillon implored the tech companies to take steps to better inform their users about suspicious accounts and to crack down on the spread of disinformation.

“These are a few specific suggestions — but no one understands your platform better than your own employees,” she wrote to Twitter. “So we are calling on you to come up with ideas of your own to end this epidemic of disinformation. We know this problem won’t be solved overnight, but that’s no longer an excuse for inaction.”