Senator Questions Big Tech About 2020 Census Misinformation Campaigns

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) recently sent letters to big tech companies urging them to take “responsible actions… to help ensure that the 2020 Census is full, fair and accurate.”

He referenced a “highly politicized atmosphere around the decennial census” which “leaves census takers especially vulnerable to misinformation.” Since “online platforms play a role in both the promotion and spread of misinformation and have a responsibility to put in place effective countermeasures,” Schatz urged the companies to treat the 2020 Census as “an extraordinary circumstance warranting temporary heightened actions.” Actions he recommended included “initiating immediate takedowns” of posts “identified as fraud, such as those purporting to be from the Census Bureau, that are phishing for users’ personal information,” and “identified as disinformation,” policies addressing “unintentional misinformation,” and notifying “users who have engaged” with such content in a “timely manner.”

Schatz’s letters also requested quarterly reports; notification about policies to Congress, the Census Bureau, and census stakeholders (including the Census Project); providing access to their platforms for “trusted partners”; and reports “after the 2020 Census end” with assessments about how effective all these actions were, any lessons learned, and any related data analyses and summaries.