WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, members of the Congressional Task Force on Digital Citizenship sent a letter to President-elect Joe Biden proposing a roadmap for how his administration can confront the threat of disinformation and misinformation and work to counter the danger they pose to our democracy. Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD) co-signed the letter, which was led by U.S. Representatives Jennifer Wexton (D-VA), Don Beyer (D-VA), and David Cicilline (D-RI). The letter was also signed by Representatives Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Bill Foster (D-IL), Bill Keating (D-MA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), and Elissa Slotkin (D-MI). 

In the letter, the Members recognize that, while a growing number of people in the U.S. are getting their news from social media platforms, many Americans are ill-equipped to recognize and sift through false, misleading, or emotionally manipulative posts. Additionally, there exists a lack of effective information gatekeepers to protect against disinformation threats online. The Members cite the COVID-19 “infodemic” and warn if robust systems are not put in place, there is a continued danger of rampant disinformation and misinformation, which has the potential to cultivate a rise in extremism and leave the U.S. vulnerable to exploitation by foreign adversaries.

The Members proposed the following initiatives that they hope will be included in the President-elect’s strategy to confront disinformation and misinformation:

  • Creating a new multiagency Digital Democracy Task Force to develop a strategy focused on building greater national resilience to online threats and equipping federal agencies with the tools to communicate during disinformation events; 
  • Addressing the rise of “news deserts” across the country by supporting media literacy programs and investing in quality public broadcasting;
  • Dedicating resources and attention to programs that counter the growing threat of online extremism, including through engaging civil society organizations; 
  • Collaborating with global allies, sharing information, perspectives, and solutions to combat disinformation threats.

“Disinformation and misinformation will continue to evolve and our job as policy makers is to keep up, while also looking ahead at building a more resilient society,” the Members wrote. “Infodemics will not go away now that there is a COVID-19 vaccine and conspiracy theories will continue to be exploited. The United States has fallen behind global allies in understanding and working to combat disinformation and misinformation, and foreign adversaries have identified it as a point of weakness for our nation. We encourage you to work with researchers, scholars, and civil society to understand the impact of disinformation and misinformation on American society and we stand ready to assist you in putting forward these new initiatives.”

In April 2020, the Members launched the Congressional Task Force on Digital Citizenship to assemble experts, stakeholders, and leaders in an effort to advance policies that promote the responsible use of technology and equip Americans with tools to be resilient against online threats and falsehoods.

The full text of the letter can be found here.