Eshoo Calls on Social Media Companies to Quickly Remove Wildfire Disinformation

September 15, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18) wrote to the CEOs of Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook today expressing her serious concerns about the proliferation of wildfire disinformation on their platforms and the harmful impact of this content on the ability of first responders to combat wildfires. Rep. Eshoo called on Twitter and YouTube to remove misinformation and disinformation that is thwarting the efforts of public safety officials to respond to the wildfires, and called on Facebook to remove harmful information more quickly.

“I’m extremely troubled by reports that disinformation about the wildfires on your platform is thwarting the efforts of first responders to respond to wildfires, including evacuating residents in harm’s way,” Rep. Eshoo wrote to the companies. “Last week, the press reported a proliferation of social media posts falsely alleging that Antifa started recent wildfires that are devastating much of the western part of our country. These posts have caused a deluge of 9-1-1 calls, leading to several local law enforcement agencies and the FBI to publicly plea for people to stop spreading misinformation and to stop calling 9-1-1 with rumors…The incident is even more problematic because Russia is a key spreader of the lie that Antifa is linked to wildfires.”

“I urge you to immediately and expeditiously remove tweets that are overwhelming law enforcement efforts to combat wildfires,” Rep. Eshoo wrote to Twitter and YouTube. “To do otherwise is dangerous.”

“I urge you to revamp your procedures to more expeditiously remove misinformation and disinformation that directly or indirectly threatens public safety,” Rep. Eshoo wrote to Facebook. “It took Facebook days to remove posts containing wildfire disinformation. This just isn’t good enough.”

To read a copy of Rep. Eshoo’s letter to Twitter, click HERE.

To read a copy of Rep. Eshoo’s letter to YouTube, click HERE.

To read a copy of Rep. Eshoo’s letter to Facebook, click HERE.