Female politicians in the United States, Europe urge Facebook to protect women in politics

by Reuters
Thursday, 6 August 2020 16:48 GMT

U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) speaks during a House Intelligence Committee impeachment inquiry hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., November 20, 2019. Samuel Corum/Pool via REUTERS

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Female US politicians write letter calling on Facebook to protect women in politics from threats of violence and sexism

By Nandita Bose

WASHINGTON, Aug 6 (Reuters) - Facebook Inc must step up and protect women in politics from threats of violence and sexism and hate on its platform, said a letter to the company from female members of the U.S. Congress such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and top female politicians from the European Union.

Facebook has been heavily criticized for its decision to not fact-check political ads, allowing the spread of misinformation on its platform, as well as over antitrust concerns and privacy practices. The platform also came under fire for not removing a doctored video of Pelosi last year.

"We are imploring Facebook to do more to protect the ability of women to engage in democratic discourse and to foster a safe and empowering space for women," said the letter, led by U.S. Representative Jackie Speier, a Democrat who is also co-chair of the Democratic Women's Caucus.

The lawmakers are asking Facebook to remove posts that threaten candidates or glorify violence against women, eliminate hate speech targeting women, and remove manipulated videos, images and offending accounts. The letter was addressed to Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg on Thursday.

Social media has become the No. 1 place in which psychological violence – in the form of sexist and , misogynistic remarks, humiliating images, mobbing, intimidation and threats – is perpetrated against female parliamentarians, the letter added, citing a study by the Inter-Parliamentary Union, an independent organization promoting democracy.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment. (Reporting by Nandita Bose in Washington; editing by Jonathan Oatis)