FIRST ON FOX: Rep. Lance Gooden, R-Texas, on Wednesday slammed what he called a “woefully inadequate” response from Meta, the parent company of Instagram and Facebook, to his queries about its policies regarding content that helps people enter the United States illegally – and warned that the company may face a congressional subpoena next year.
“The response from Meta (Facebook) my office received on March 8th is woefully inadequate and fails to address any of the concerns I have regarding the role your company plays in fueling the immigration crisis at our southern border,” Gooden said in a letter to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
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Gooden is one of a number of Republicans who has raised concerns about Facebook’s policies regarding content on illegal immigration. The Tech Transparency Project said in April that it first identified the existence of 50 pages and private groups advertising human smuggling and provided their names to Facebook after the company had asked. While some were deactivated, in September the group said it identified an additional 40 Facebook pages and 17 Facebook groups that openly sell illegal border crossings.
In a response to Gooden and Rep. Mary Miller, R-Ill., Meta said that it is “working diligently to proactively remove content that offers to provide or facilitate human smuggling on our platforms.”
However, the letter says that under its Human Exploitation Policy, “we do not remove content seeking information on how to cross borders.”
“That policy reflects our conclusion that the best way to help people stay safe is to allow people to ask for help in crossing borders,” the response said.
“Meta recognizes that sharing and obtaining information concerning how to cross a border is key to exercising one’s right to seek asylum,” the letter says. “With its policy, Meta intends to prohibit content relating to the business of human smuggling but not interfere with people’s ability to exercise their right to seek asylum, which is recognized by international and U.S. law.”
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Gooden said the response showed that Meta “confirmed you do not remove content on how to illegally cross the U.S. border, which means Meta is hosting content to encourage and induce aliens to come to, enter, or reside in the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such coming to, entry, or residence is or will be in violation of law.”
He also expressed alarm about a claim by Meta that many of the documents related to the policy that he requested “are kept confidential, in part to promote full and frank discussion within Meta about important issues like this and to preserve users’ and employees’ privacy.”
Gooden told the company that Meta is “obligated to preserve all information that relates to investigations” conducted by Congress, including documents related to requests by lawmakers.
“I am deeply concerned by Meta’s role in fueling the migrant crisis and their refusal to comply with my request for information,” Gooden said in a statement to Fox News. “If the company will not provide these documents now, then they will be compelled to by Congressional subpoena next year.”
Gooden’s letter includes additional questions, including which groups, activists and organizations are included in the “external voices” that Meta consults with on the policy and how it differentiates between content about human trafficking and content relating to asylum.