The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) is a nonpartisan policy organization committed to the principles of democracy, human rights and international cooperation. We were disappointed to see the Journal’s Oct. 15 editorial “Facebook’s Conservative Emergency” criticizing one of GMF’s latest efforts to identify the cause of and solutions to disinformation, a serious threat to these values.
Notably, the editorial doesn’t take issue with the study’s methodology, but criticizes one of the report’s findings: As the data show, many of the online outlets that repeatedly share false content or fail to gather and present information responsibly are conservative. (The Journal does concede that the study stated there are left-leaning outlets that fail these criteria of journalistic credibility too.)
The Journal also takes issue with the policy proposals referenced in the report. Our study shows that the efforts by the platforms to play “whack a mole” by debating whether individual pieces of content are false or pose imminent harm isn’t sufficient. GMF Digital recommends that the platforms set out clear rules and enforce them consistently, including when they will reduce the amplification of dangerous content or the reach of repeat offenders. We propose creating a funding mechanism for public-interest journalism. None of the recommendations suggest a partisan filter, instead they would protect against one.
Healthy democracies demand an informed citizenry. That requires that independent research organizations not shy away from the conclusions of their work. We will continue to champion ideas that support democracy, human rights and international cooperation.