effort is the latest pressure on Facebook Inc, Twitter Inc and
Alphabet Inc over extreme rhetoric after the storming of the
U.S. Capitol last week by supporters of President Donald Trump.
In letters sent on Thursday, the investors - including New York
State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, the Service Employees
International Union and the Unitarian Universalist Association -
asked for steps including disabling the coding they said tends
to elevate conspiracy theories and radicalizing content, and for
the companies to continue to flag content with hashtags like #Stopthesteal.
In the longer run, boards and executives must review their
"business model and reliance on algorithmic decision making,
which has been linked to the spread of hate and disinformation
online," the letters said.
Alphabet representatives did not respond to questions. A
Facebook spokesman said it has banned over 250 white supremacist
groups and enforced rules like those barring militias from
organizing on its platform. A Twitter representative cited
actions it has taken like suspending accounts that mainly shared
Violent rhetoric on social media platforms has ramped up in
recent weeks as groups planned openly for the gathering in
Washington, according to researchers and public postings,
prompting criticism of the companies for failing to take action
Twitter and Facebook banned Trump's accounts last week as the
tech giants scrambled to crack down on Trump's baseless claims
of fraud in the U.S. presidential election.
The activist investors together manage about $390 billion in
assets but own relatively small stakes in the social media
companies. Top shareholders in the space so far have declined to
comment on their responses including BlackRock Inc Vanguard
Group Inc and Morgan Stanley.
The bans on Trump have prompted concern among other investors
that users and advertisers would leave for different platforms.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said the decision was correct but set a
dangerous precedent. Facebook operations chief Sheryl Sandberg
has said the company has no plans to lift its ban.
(Reporting by Ross Kerber; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Raju
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