House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on advertisers to boycott social media networks unless the outlets agree to restrict “dangerous” political speech, even as her campaign spent over $180,000 on Facebook ads over the past week.
“Advertisers are in a position, they have power to discourage platforms from amplifying dangerous and even life-threatening disinformation,” said Pelosi at an online conference on social media hosted by George Washington University on Tuesday.
Pelosi said advertisers should use “a combination” of tactics to pressure social media companies to change their policies, including pulling ad revenue.
Pelosi spent $182,528 on Facebook ads over the past seven days, according to Facebook’s public database. The spending shows the value Democrats place on the platform as a political fundraising and organizing tool, even as they call for tighter speech restrictions on the site.
Pelosi’s comments appear to correspond with Joe Biden’s public pressure campaign against Facebook. Last week, the Democratic presidential candidate called on supporters to protest Facebook and demand that the website restrict “misinformation” posted on the platform by Donald Trump and his supporters.
During the social media conference, Pelosi also read remarks from former Facebook employees who claimed the website “weaponized hatred” and “isn’t neutral.”
“You know, [Facebook founder] Mark [Zuckerberg] said it’s neutral. It isn’t neutral,” said Pelosi.
A spokesperson for Pelosi did not respond to a request for comment. Facebook did not respond to a request for comment.
Biden spent over $4.7 million on Facebook ads this month, the Washington Free Beacon reported, while blasting the website for allegedly allowing “threatening behavior and the spread of misinformation” from Trump.
The Biden campaign has been privately lobbying Facebook for stricter speech policies for months, but deployed its supporters against the social network last week after its demands were rebuffed, the New York Times reported.
On Tuesday, Biden’s deputy communications director Bill Russo sent out an email blast asking supporters to sign an open letter to Zuckerberg “to help us pressure Facebook to do the right thing.”
“We called on Facebook—in an open letter, co-signed by you, our supporters—to change its policies by finally preventing rampant disinformation before it influences our election,” the campaign said in the email. “Facebook responded, and I will spare you the details, because honestly, it didn’t even make sense.”
“[R]ight now, Facebook is letting Donald Trump write the terms of what’s acceptable online in this election, and we won’t stand for it,” the email continued.