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NY Comptroller: Social Media Must Fight Fake News, Protect Consumers

Elise Amendola

New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli is using the state’s $206 billion pension to force Google, Facebook, and Twitter to address fake news, hate speech, and sexual harassment online.

New York’s pension fund owns about $1 billion worth of stock in Facebook, $2 billion in Google, and $50 million in Twitter. This gives the state the ability to make proposals on how those companies operate.

One proposal would require each company to disclose how it enforces its terms of service. If approved by the majority of shareholders, the companies would be required to comply. David Webber, a law professor at Boston University, says New York is influential when it comes to gathering shareholder momentum to force companies to change.

“It does send a signal to other investors that this is a proposal that they ought to pay attention to and consider voting for.”

DiNapoli has been a frequent critic of Facebook’s lax enforcement of harassment and privacy. He says that if the companies don't act swiftly, they're putting themselves at risk of lawsuits, financial losses and reputational damage.  

He says the pension fund will vote against the re-election of several board members at Google, Twitter, and Facebook, including Mark Zuckerberg.

Charles is senior reporter focusing on special projects. He has won numerous awards including an IRE award, three SPJ Public Service Awards, and a National Murrow. He was also a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists and Third Coast Director’s Choice Award.
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