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Legislative platform by civil-rights, racial-equity and digital-justice groups seeks to protect Black and Brown people online

WASHINGTON — As social-media companies continue to refuse to meaningfully address the spread of harmful disinformation, 35 organizations representing the Disinfo Defense League (DDL) are calling on U.S. policymakers and the United Nations to act. On Tuesday, they released the DDL policy platform, which outlines steps Congress must take to adopt comprehensive digital-privacy legislation that protects digital civil rights and taxes social-media companies for polluting the information ecosystem. The platform also includes a call to action for the U.N. to investigate the danger of disinformation across the world and its unique harms to Black and Brown people.

Launched in June 2020, DDL is a distributed national network of organizers, researchers and disinformation experts that works to address racialized disinformation targeting Black, Latinx, Asian American and Pacific Islander and other communities of color online. Campaigns and other efforts to deploy racialized disinformation deliberately use false or misleading information to incite hate, drive wedges between social-justice groups, defame and discredit movements and enforce white supremacist power. Today’s policy platform release is part of DDL’s mission to hold those in power accountable for the harmful spread of racialized disinformation online.

The platform calls for:

  • Banning discriminatory algorithms
  • Limiting Big Tech’s use of our personal information
  • Enhancing data transparency
  • Enhancing platform transparency about the impacts of their business models
  • Protecting whistleblowers
  • Establishing individuals’ rights to control their own data
  • Expanding Federal Trade Commission oversight
  • Enlisting the assistance of other federal agencies that protect the public with specialized expertise
  • Setting a floor for consumer protection

“Weaponized narratives targeting our marginalized communities are amplified through the toxic business models of big tech and big media,” said Erin Shields, National Field Organizer of Media Justice. “Online platforms, cable channels and broadcasters alike have all shirked responsibility and accountability for their roles in spreading dangerous, racialized disinformation. Policymakers must examine how the corporate media ecosystem distorts facts and spreads lies — and move swiftly to redress the harms our communities have endured as a result.”

“Whether it’s the fight to save our democracy or vaccinating Americans against COVID-19, progress depends on voters being able to trust the information they’re receiving,” said Nsé Ufot, CEO of the New Georgia Project. “If policymakers want to move this country forward, we must defend ourselves from bad actors spreading disinformation or outright lies, and this platform is one of the ways we do it.”

“As the real-world harms caused by our social-media ecosystems have reached a fever pitch this year, it is time to move beyond hand-wringing over the problem and for policy leaders to develop thoughtful solutions,” said Nora Benavidez of Free Press Action. “Our Disinfo Defense League policy platform is a launching pad that centers communities of color in this policy debate, elevating the need for policies to protect civil and human rights as well as disrupt extractive, discriminatory platform systems. Without a rapid and thorough policy response, the social-media-platform playbook will continue to cause real-world harms to our communities, including voter suppression, an insufficient public-health response to the pandemic, hate crimes, deadly violence and harassment.”

The full policy platform and list of demands can be found here.

The organizations that signed on to the platform include:

  • Access Humboldt 
  • Access Now
  • Arab American Institute
  • Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC
  • Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO
  • Common Cause
  • Cybersecurity for Democracy
  • Demos
  • Detroit Community Technology Project 
  • Equality Labs 
  • Facebook Users Union 
  • Fight For The Future 
  • Free Press Action
  • Global Exchange 
  • Greenlighting Institute 
  • Indian American Impact 
  • Instituto di Geopolitica Digitale 
  • Japanese American Citizens League
  • Kairos 
  • Media Alliance 
  • MediaJustice 
  • Miami Workers Center 
  • Mijente 
  • National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA)
  • New Georgia Project 
  • Noticias Para Inmigrantes 
  • OpenMIC 
  • People' s Action 
  • ProgressNow New Mexico 
  • Public Good Projects 
  • ReFrame 
  • Rural Organizing Project 
  • Ultraviolet 
  • United We Dream 
  • Women' s March

The Disinfo Defense League (DDL) is a distributed national network for Black and Brown community-based organizations that are disrupting disinformation campaigns deliberately targeting Black, Latinx, Asian American/Pacific Islander and other communities of color. DDL was created by and for these communities, and is supported by services and insight provided by expert partners. Launched in June 2020, DDL uses coordinated strategy, disinformation training, and research to support more than 200 member organizations with resources to fortify and scale current inoculation efforts and increase cohesion and collaboration in targeted communities. 

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