Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Shareholders Press Twitter, Facebook and Google on Fake News

Politicians aren’t the only ones demanding answers from the biggest social media companies. Shareholders are also weighing in, saying Twitter Inc., Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google aren’t doing enough to combat fake news on their platforms, and it’s costing them.

A group of investors led by Arjuna Capital and the Illinois State Treasurer filed proposals with the three companies asking for “in-depth reports” about the controversies involving Russian interference on their platforms during the 2016 election and the dissemination of fake news.

“As investors, we cannot allow Facebook, Google, and Twitter to become dumpster fires of disinformation and hate,” Arjuna managing partner Natasha Lamb said in a statement Monday. “Users will abandon the platforms as quickly as they joined them.”

Representatives from Facebook, Twitter and Google didn’t immediately return requests for comment.

Officials from the three companies are expected to appear this week in front of three separate hearings on Russian interference in last year’s presidential elections, beginning with the Senate Judiciary subcommittee Tuesday.

Arjuna filed similar proposals at Facebook and Google last year, but the proposals received scant support from shareholders at the companies’ annual meetings.

Since then Facebook has disclosed that fake accounts operated out of Russia bought about $100,000 in election-related ads. The company has subsequently said it will hire as many as 1,000 people to screen ads and pledged to disclose more about political advertising on its site. Twitter unveiled similar disclosure plans for political ads last week, saying it will ban two Russian media companies from advertising. Google also found thousands of dollars in ad spending tied to the Russian government.

For more on U.S. election meddling, check out the Decrypted podcast:

— With assistance by Laura Colby, Selina Wang, and Gerrit De Vynck

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