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Photo: Graeme Jennings via Getty Images

Facebook must do better to protect women in politics, who face a barrage of sexism, hate and harassment on the platform, members of the Democratic Women Caucus including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote to the social network Thursday.

Context: Facebook, under heavy scrutiny for misinformation, privacy and antitrust concerns, recently kept a doctored video of Pelosi up, though fact checkers labeled it as "partly false." The platform came under fire for not removing a doctored video of Pelosi in 2019 as well.

The lawmakers ask Facebook in a letter to:

  • quickly remove posts that threaten candidates or glorify violence against women;
  • eliminate hate speech targeting women;
  • remove offending accounts; and
  • remove manipulated images and videos.

What they're saying: "We are imploring Facebook to do more to protect the ability of women to engage in democratic discourse and to foster a safe and empowering space for women," reads the letter, led by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) and signed by more than 30 House Democrats, plus Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and dozens of international lawmakers.

  • "Make no mistake, these tactics, which are used on your platform for malicious intent, are meant to silence women, and ultimately undermine our democracies," the letter adds. "It is no wonder women frequently cite the threat of rapid, widespread, public attacks on personal dignity as a factor deterring them from entering politics."
  • Cindy Southworth, Facebook’s head of women’s safety, pledged to work with policymakers on their concerns, saying in a statement, "Abuse of women on the internet is a serious problem, one we tackle in a variety of ways — through technology that identifies and removes potentially abusive content before it happens, by enforcing strict policies, and by talking with experts to ensure we stay ahead of new tactics.”

The group wants to meet with Facebook leaders Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg to "discuss this in greater detail, and ask them to implement the requests we made in this letter," Speier said Thursday at an event on social media and misogyny.

  • "Sandberg is a well-known feminist. She has got to appreciate the power that Facebook has in terms of being the purveyor of misogynistic comments," Speier said. "I’m hopeful she is particular will take this on as a campaign within Facebook."

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include comment from a Facebook official.

Go deeper

Facebook and Google extend political ad ban

Photo: SOPA Images / Getty Images

Facebook and Google are extending their bans on political ads to prevent confusion about the election, the Financial Times reported Wednesday.

Why it matters: While tech companies are trying to limit post-election misinformation, hundreds of millions of dollars are about to pour into Georgia, now that control of the Senate — and the fate of the next president's agenda — hinges on runoffs for now one, but both of the state's seats, set for Jan. 5.

Fringe right plots new attacks out of sight

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Domestic extremists are using obscure and private corners of the internet to plot new attacks ahead of Inauguration Day. Their plans are also hidden in plain sight, buried in podcasts and online video platforms.

Why it matters: Because law enforcement was caught flat-footed during last week's Capitol siege, researchers and intelligence agencies are paying more attention to online threats that could turn into real-world violence.

Kids’ screen time up 50% during pandemic

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

When the coronavirus lockdowns started in March, kidstech firm SuperAwesome found that screen time was up 50%. Nearly a year later, that percentage hasn't budged, according to new figures from the firm.

Why it matters: For most parents, pre-pandemic expectations around screen time are no longer realistic. The concern now has shifted from the number of hours in front of screens to the quality of screen time.