FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 14, 2020
For media inquiries:
Michelle Rash (SCSJ)
New Letter to Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg, Lindsay Elin & Shaarik Zafar, Coalition Demands
A new letter released today by a coalition of more than 60 progressive groups is urging that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, COO Sheryl Sandberg and Director of External Affairs Lindsay Elin stop right-wing extremists from harassing and violently threatening poll workers leading up to Georgia’s runoff Senate election on January 5th, 2021.
The letter, organized by UltraViolet Action and supported by #VOTEPROCHOICE, 9to5, National Association of Working Women, Access Now, Accountable Tech, ACRONYM, Advance Native Political Leadership, BlackPAC, Care in Action, Catalist, Care2, Center for Democracy & Technology, Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights, ColorOfChange, DemCast USA, End Citizens United / Let America Vote Action Fund, Equality Labs, Fair Fight Action, Fix Democracy First, Free Press Action, Free Speech For People, Generation Justice, Greenpeace, Guns Down America, Higher Heights, Indivisible Chicago Alliance, Indivisible Northern Nevada, Indivisible Plus Washington, Jewish Women International (JWI), Kairos Action, Lake Oconee Community Church, Mainers for Accountable Leadership, MediaJustice, MomsRising, MoveOn, NARAL Pro-Choice America, National Equality Action Team (NEAT), National Hispanic Media Coalition, Reality Team, ReFrame, Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, SisterSong: Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, Southern Coalition for Social Justice, Stand Up America, Stop Online Violence Against Women Inc., SumOfUs, Supermajority, Tech Transparency Project, The Greenlining Institute, The Representation Project, The Womxn Project, United We Dream, Vermont Public Interest Research Group, Way to Win, Where It’s Needed (WIN PAC), Win Black / Pa’lante, Win Without War, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom US, and Women’s March, argues that:
The majority of election workers are women, and many extremists are focusing their attacks on Black election workers in majority Black districts. These Black women who make our democracy work are facing harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence, and Facebook has an opportunity to change that…
…Facebook has served as a site for hateful extremists to spread disinformation, harass election workers, and undermine our votes. Now, heading into the final weeks of the election, it’s critical that Facebook take immediate action to protect Georgia election workers by extending the protections that are provided to journalists and politicians and taking steps to block the spread of disinformation and violence in Georgia.
READ THE FULL LETTER HERE: https://weareuv.us/FacebookGA
According to several recent reports, poll workers, especially women poll workers, are facing increased threats and acts of aggression throughout the United States in light of the presidential election earlier this month. In states like Arizona, conservative protesters carrying military-style rifles gathered outside of the Maricopa County election site in Phoenix; law enforcement departments in several states were told to prepare for violence and disruption ahead of time.
Election workers across Georgia are already reporting widespread harassment and death threats—one worker found a noose outside of his family’s home with his name on it. On December 1st, Republican Gabriel Sterling, Georgia’s Voting System Manager, warned at a press conference that “Someone’s going to get hurt, someone’s going to get shot, someone’s going to get killed. And it’s not right. I’m doing my best to keep it together.”
Though Facebook has taken actions to recruit poll workers, the coalition of 60 organizations argue that the tech giant is not doing enough to protect them, and that Facebook has a responsibility to prevent harassment and violent threats against poll workers before and during Georgia’s Senate election.
“Given Facebook’s direct role in radicalizing the very people threatening election and poll workers in Georgia, it should be the platform’s top priority to protect them,” explained Fair Fight Action CEO Lauren Groh-Wargo. “We need Facebook to step up and protect the mostly women of color who are working to protect our democratic processes from the dual threats they face—spiking COVID cases and deaths coupled with the threat of violence from those radicalized on the platform.”
“Georgia poll workers and poll workers throughout the nation, many of whom are women and women of color, face two harrowing threats this election cycle: COVID-19 and violence from right-wing extremists,” said Bridget Todd, Communications Director of UltraViolet Action. “With Georgia’s runoff elections near, social media platforms like Facebook, who proudly tout their poll worker recruitment efforts, are simply not doing enough to protect these workers or stop the proliferation of harassment and violence against them. It is widely known that poll workers are facing harassment online, in person and over the phone. Our main concern is why Facebook isn’t taking as much initiative to protect poll workers as they were to recruit them.”
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The Southern Coalition for Social Justice, founded in 2007, partners with communities of color and economically disadvantaged communities in the South to defend and advance their political, social, and economic rights through the combination of legal advocacy, research, organizing and communications. Learn more at southerncoalition.org and follow our work on Twitter and Facebook.