Pressure now on Facebook following Twitter political advert ban

Oct. 31, 2019

PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OPEN KNOWLEDGE FOUNDATION

EMBARGO: IMMEDIATE

PRESSURE NOW ON FACEBOOK FOLLOWING TWITTER POLITICAL ADVERT BAN

Facebook is today under pressure to be more open and transparent following Twitter’s decision to ban political adverts.

The Open Knowledge Foundation has been campaigning against the spread of disinformation and has called for urgent action ahead of December’s UK General Election.

Twitter announced yesterday that it is to ban all political advertising worldwide, saying the reach of such messages ‘should be earned, not bought’.

But it was found earlier this year that Facebook had repeatedly withheld key data on its efforts to clamp down on disinformation ahead of the European elections.

The European Commission warned that ‘malign actors constantly change their strategies’ and said before the elections there was ‘evidence of coordinated inauthentic behaviour aimed at spreading divisive material on online platforms, including through the use of bots and fake accounts’.

There have been repeated international demands for more information on how many fake accounts Facebook continues to host, and what progress is being made on working with third-party fact-checkers.

Catherine Stihler, chief executive of the Open Knowledge Foundation, said:

“Twitter’s decision is very welcome and sends a strong signal to other social media giants.

“It will go a considerable way to preventing the spread of disinformation and ‘fake news’, and help to resuscitate the three foundations of tolerance, facts and ideas.

“It is imperative that we do not allow disinformation to blight this year’s UK General Election, forthcoming elections across Europe, and next year’s US Presidential election.

“Facebook must act on the growing demands for greater transparency.

“The best way to tackle disinformation is to make information open, allowing journalists, developers and the research community to carry out analysis of disinformation operations.

“Social media giants must work to build a fair, free and open digital world.”

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-50243306

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/feb/28/facebook-withholding-data-anti-disinformation-efforts-eu

Contact: Alan Roden at alan.roden@okfn.org or +44 (0)7753 904 531

ABOUT OPEN KNOWLEDGE FOUNDATION

Our vision is for a future that is fair, free and open. Our mission is to create a more open world – a world where all non-personal information is open, free for everyone to use, build on and share; and creators and innovators are fairly recognised and rewarded.

Open knowledge is any content, information or data that people are free to use, re-use and redistribute without any legal, technological or social restriction.

The Open Knowledge Foundation helps governments, universities, and civil society organisations by providing them with skills and tools to publish, use, and understand data.

Read more here: https://okfn.org

The Open Knowledge Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation. It is incorporated in England & Wales as a company limited by guarantee, with company number 05133759. Registered office address: 86 - 90 Paul Street, London EC2A 4NE, UK.