Press releases

Diverse stakeholders and communities unite to combat social media’s impact on U.S. democracy

The new Council for Responsible Social Media brings together policymakers, impacted communities, and key stakeholders to advance meaningful, bipartisan reform

Media Contact

Cory Combs

Director of Media Relations

Today, Issue One announced the launch of the Council for Responsible Social Media (CRSM), a crosspartisan and bipartisan group of national leaders united to hold social media platforms to higher standards and advocate for fundamental changes to the social media platforms. Members include religious and business leaders, children’s health and national security experts, former members of Congress, and tech insiders.

The Council is co-chaired by former Congressman and Majority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-MO) and Kerry Healey, the former Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts and President of the Milken Institute’s Center for Advancing the American Dream. Other Council members include Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, best-selling author Jonathan Haidt, former Secretaries of Defense Chuck Hagel and Leon Panetta, Harvard University’s Director of the Center for Edmund J. Safra Center for Ethics Danielle Allen, former Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Digital Justice and Civil Rights at Free Press Senior Counsel and Director Nora Benavidez, and former Director of the National Security Agency Admiral Mike Rogers.

“Social media defines nearly every aspect of our social fabric and has changed the world as we know it. We can now see clearly that the companies operating these platforms have too often failed to be responsible stewards of our political, social and communications spaces,” said Rep. Gephardt. “They have placed profit above people and use turbo-charged business models that exploit our anxieties and aggravate our conflicts, all to the detriment of our social, physical, mental, and civic health. It’s time we move beyond our traditional partisan divides and work together on agreed upon goals that will prevent these companies from harming our people and our democracy.”

The Council will advance reforms to bring transparency, oversight, and accountability to the decisions the social media companies are making with their increasingly powerful and pervasive platforms. These legislative and regulatory solutions will ensure that these platforms are operating with the health of our children, the wellbeing of our communities, and the protection of our national security in mind. Where appropriate, the Council will also apply pressure to the platforms to make internal changes themselves.

“Throughout Issue One’s work to strengthen democracy, we’ve found ourselves up against the anti-democratic forces that social media amplifies — including disinformation, polarization, and foreign interference in our elections,” said Nick Penniman, founder and CEO of Issue One. “We also know that the health of our democracy is linked to the health of our fellow citizens, and social media companies are actively harming our civic, mental, and physical wellbeing. It doesn’t have to be this way, and the platforms know it. The question is: Are they willing to take the steps necessary to make things truly better? Or will they continue pretending that they’re just neutral pipelines of data and information?”

Today’s announcement precedes an inaugural, in-person summit tomorrow in Washington, D.C., where members of the Council will gather to develop a comprehensive plan of action for the months and years ahead. The event will be livestreamed to the public — click here to register.

“Lasting change will require a radical shift in the way we think about social media and its impact not only with young people, but also on the stability of our government,” said Frances Haugen. “It requires all of us — doctors, pastors, CEOs, whistleblowers, tech experts, politicians, military leaders — to have a seat at the table and demand better from these platforms. And it requires the right and the left to work together to address the harms of social media and take back the power that American democracy ceded to these powerful corporations more than a decade ago. Only then will it be possible to build a healthier democracy in our digital age.”

The Council is a project of Issue One, the leading crosspartisan political reform group in Washington, D.C., that has been bringing Republicans, Democrats, and independents together for the last decade in the movement to build a democracy that works for everyone.

Learn more about the Council for Responsible Social Media.