Attorney General Becerra Calls on Facebook to Step Up Action to Combat the Spread of Hate and Disinformation Online

Wednesday, August 5, 2020
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today joined a multistate letter calling on Facebook to take additional steps to combat the spread of hate and disinformation on the social media platform. The coalition also urges the company to do more to provide assistance to people who fall victim to online intimidation and harassment, including digital abuse and violence.

“When Facebook profits off of hate, it is letting its platform be used to dehumanize and demean,” said Attorney General Becerra. “The spread of hate and disinformation on social media puts our democracy and decades of advocacy work by Black Americans, Latinos, the LGBTQ community, people with disabilities, and many others at risk. If Facebook truly wants to be a place that brings people together, it must do more — Mark Zuckerberg must do more. We urge Facebook to take affirmative steps to join us in the fight to better tackle hate in our society and disinformation in our democracy. It will take all of us working together to make a difference.”

Although Facebook has committed to the public and its users that it will “invest billions of dollars each year to keep [Facebook’s] community safe and continuously work with outside experts to review and update [Facebook’s] policies,” the recent independent civil rights audit of the company’s policies and practices reveals that the steps taken thus far have fallen short. Private parties, organized groups, and public officials continue to use Facebook to spread misinformation and project messages of hate against different groups of Americans. According to recent surveys, more than forty percent of Americans have experienced some form of online harassment, including criminal forms of harassment like cyberstalking, doxing, and swatting. Of those Americans who report having been harassed online, more than three-quarters have reported being harassed on Facebook. Much of that harassment is focused on characteristics protected by the civil rights laws that state attorneys general are charged with enforcing, including race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender and gender identity, and disability. Unfortunately, recourse is unavailable for too many of these victims due to limitations on the services that Facebook offers victims.

In the letter, the Attorneys General urge Facebook to:

  • Aggressively enforce the company’s policies against hate speech and organized hate organizations;
  • Allow public, third-party audits of hate content and enforcement;
  • Commit to an ongoing, independent analysis of the platform’s content population scheme and the prompt development of best practices guidance;
  • Expand policies limiting inflammatory advertisements that vilify minority groups;
  • Offer live real-time assistance to help users address harassment before damage becomes irreversible;
  • Make information about unlawful harassment and intimidation more readily available, within the bounds of privacy laws, to victims and law enforcement; and
  • Strengthen filtering, reporting, and blocking tools.

Attorney General Becerra is committed to combatting hate wherever it occurs. Last month, the Attorney General published the latest report on hate crime in California, which includes data through 2019. In June, he released a video urging Californians to stand united against hate and report suspected hate crimes to their local law enforcement agency. In April, the Attorney General issued a bulletin to help ensure law enforcement agencies across California have the necessary information and tools to continue to respond to hate crime activity during COVID-19. More information on tools and resources to combat hate crime is available at

In sending the letter, Attorney General Becerra joins the attorneys general of the District of Columbia, Illinois, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin. 

A copy of the letter is available here.

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