Over 20 members of Congress, including Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), sent letters to Signal, Telegram, and WhatsApp asking the messaging platforms to address “misinformation” targeted at Latinos.
“The spread of content that promotes mis/disinformation undermines public health efforts, and instills distrust in our democratic institutions must become a top priority,” the lawmakers wrote in the letters.
We obtained a copy of the letter for you here.
The letters asked the platforms to disclose how much money, staff, and resources they have allocated towards combating misinformation targeted at Spanish-speaking people. They also recommended solutions such as increasing Spanish-speaking staff, ensuring fact-checking is available across all languages, and creating ways to slow down the spread of misinformation.
Singling out Meta’s WhatsApp, the letters said: “Meta, WhatsApp’s parent company, stated that they are taking steps to curb mis/disinformation. Yet, the company has repeatedly failed to produce data and evidence on the effectiveness of these actions.
“This letter follows more than five previous letters sent by Member[s] of Congress to Meta requesting such information … Unfortunately, Meta has failed to adequately and comprehensively address these important questions.”
WhatsApp is arguably the most popular messaging platform in Spanish-speaking countries and communities. An investigation by Politico, conducted before the 2020 presidential election, alleged that Spanish-speaking people in Florida were getting “misinformation and disinformation” from both WhatsApp and Facebook.
Most of the time, the misinformation is shared on Facebook before getting to WhatsApp groups, where it is harder for fact-checkers to monitor it.