In an open letter issued on February 11, 2019, organizations from across civil society urged Facebook to take meaningful action to improve the transparency of political advertising on the platform. Led by the Mozilla Foundation, a broad array of democracy and human rights groups, including members of the Design 4 Democracy (D4D) Coalition, co-signed the open letter, and supported its call for specific, time-bound action in order to improve transparency of political advertisements on social media platforms in the context of the European Union elections.
Leaked internal documents from Facebook show that the social media company has engaged in a high-level lobbying campaign with some of Europe’s most powerful politicians. The exposed memos describe a strategy through which company COO Sheryl Sandberg, a popularly known motivational speaker, used her influence and prestige to convince the political elite in European Union countries to repeal their extant information-privacy laws. Targeted politicians included former British Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, and former Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny.