by Ailan Evans
Former Facebook employee and whistleblower Frances Haugen is heading a new initiative, featuring a slew of former intelligence officials and bankrolled by a left-wing billionaire, that aims to influence how social media companies moderate speech and content.
Haugen will co-chair the Council for Responsible Social Media, according to a Wednesday press release from Issue One, a non-profit sponsoring the initiative. The council’s members includes Leon Panetta, former CIA Director and secretary of Defense under Barack Obama, Chris Krebs, director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency under Donald Trump, and Bush administration CIA Director Porter Goss; members also include the Biden administration’s former Director for Legislative Affairs at the National Security Council Nicole Tisdale and Obama administration Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
The group intends to lobby lawmakers and officials to enact legislation and regulations governing online platforms, according to a project fact sheet, and also hopes to pressure social media companies to moderate their platforms in accordance with the group’s demands. The council is focused on the effect of social media on children’s mental health, as well as safeguarding democracy from “propaganda” and “conspiracy theories.”
The Omidyar Network, the Newton and Rochelle Becker Charitable Trust and the Wend Collective collectively funded the council with $250,000 in grants, Issue One spokesperson Cory Combs told The Washington Post. Issue One received $100,000 from the Omidyar Network in 2022, according to the network’s website.
Pierre Omidyar, the network’s billionaire co-founder, is a long-time supporter of left-wing causes and efforts to police content on social media platforms; in 2020 the Omidyar Network donated $700,000 to the Sixteen Thirty Fund, a Democrat-aligned dark money group, while Omidyar himself made a whopping $45 million contribution to the Civic Action Fund, a project of the liberal outfit, according to Politico.
Haugen has previously pushed for social media companies to crack down on “misinformation” and “hateful” speech, calling for a government regulator to oversee social media platforms.
“Throughout Issue One’s work to strengthen democracy, we’ve found ourselves up against the anti-democratic forces that social media amplifies — including disinformation, polarization, and foreign interference in our elections,” Nick Penniman, founder and CEO of Issue One, said in the press release, adding that “social media companies are actively harming our civic, mental, and physical wellbeing.”
While the council includes several Republicans, such as ex-CIA director and GOP congressman Porter Goss and Denver Riggleman, former Republican Virginia congressman and current senior staffer to Jan. 6 Committee, the group features prominent Democrats, including former Democratic House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt, who co-chairs the council.
Haugen herself has strong ties to Democrats; Bill Burton, a former Obama administration official and founder of Democrat-linked consulting firm Bryson Gillette as well as political action committee Priorities USA Action, advised her on her public appearances after she leaked internal Facebook documents in 2021, The Washington Free Beacon first reported.
Haugen said the mission of the council was “to build a healthier democracy in our digital age.”
“It requires all of us — doctors, pastors, CEOs, whistleblowers, tech experts, politicians, military leaders,” she said.
Issue One and Haugen did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment.
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Ailan Evans is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.
Photo “Frances Haugen” by Web Summit. CC BY 2.0.