Biden should keep Facebook workers out of his transition team, groups demand

Earlier this week, a coalition of veteran and progressive groups demanded that the Joe Biden campaign commit that no Facebook executives or registered lobbyists would be appointed to the Biden transition team or future administration if elected.

Groups like Defend American Democracy, the Open Markets Institute, and Demand Progress penned their letter, addressed to transition team leaders former Sen. Ted Kaufman and Yohannes Abraham, citing Facebook’s involvement in spreading “dangerous COVID-19 health conspiracies and supercharging election misinformation” as reasons not to hire any high-level company executives into key transition or administrative roles. In the letter, the groups requested that the campaign steer clear of onboarding any current senior executive, vice president, product manager, board member, C-suite executive, policy or regulatory official, or registered lobbyist into these positions.

“We know the Biden transition would not consider people who work for or lobby on behalf of Tobacco companies or the National Rifle Association for a role in the transition or the administration,” the groups wrote. “That’s because the overall impact of those organizations on American health, safety, and civic vitality is in a word: toxic. Similarly, Facebook’s willful and repeated practices undermine our democracy and civic life, while profiting off of the facilitation of racist violence is toxic.”

The Biden campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Throughout the 2020 campaign, the Biden camp has come down hard on Facebook over its content moderation decisions involving the election. Last October, the campaign sent a letter to Facebook requesting that it reject political ads that could be misleading after Donald Trump’s reelection campaign ran an ad falsely claiming that the former vice president coerced Ukraine into firing a prosecutor connected to his son Hunter.

“Facebook’s business model is toxic to American democracy, and they have failed to make adjustments when the outcomes of Facebook’s impact have been quite clear,” Alexander McCoy, a Marine Corps veteran and political director of Common Defense, a letter signatory, told The Verge on Wednesday. “That means that they can’t be trusted to have the best interest of the country and the American people at heart.”

Executives and employees of large tech firms played a significant role in Barack Obama’s administration, often controversially. More recently, Demand Progress called on Trump-appointed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh to recuse himself from any cases involving Facebook as he is close friends with the company’s current vice president of public policy, Joel Kaplan.

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