Maryland congressman deactivates Facebook account

Brian Witte
Associated Press

Annapolis, Md. – A Maryland congressman announced Wednesday that he has deactivated his official congressional and campaign Facebook and Instagram accounts until their parent company and Congress make substantial reforms to protect children, health and democratic values.

Democratic Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger said his decision follows disturbing whistleblower reports about the company’s own research revealing harm to democracy, the mental health of teens and the amplification of hate speech.

Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., arrives for the funeral service of Rep. Elijah Cummings at New Psalmist Baptist Church, Friday, Oct. 25, 2019, in Baltimore.

In a news release, Ruppersberger cited a report in The Washington Post that Facebook’s algorithm at one time treated “angry” reactions as five times more valuable than “likes,” disproportionately promoting content that was likely to include “misinformation, toxicity and low-quality news.”

“Facebook’s basic business model sows division and disinformation and I can no longer use it – and promote it from my official mediums – in good conscience for the time being,” Ruppersberger said. “While Facebook must do better to police themselves, Congress must also act and pass reasonable social media reforms.”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has previously disputed whistleblower Frances Haugen’s portrayal of the company as one that puts profit over the well-being of its users, or that pushes divisive content.

Ruppersberger said his Twitter account will remain active. He also emphasized that he and his staff are available to take constituents’ calls, emails – even faxes.