Posted by Arab American Institute on February 16, 2018 in Blog

Contact: Jennifer Salan, Arab American Institute or 202-429-9210 (desk) 202-494-9857 cell

For Immediate Release:

February 16, 2018

Arab American Institute Response to DOJ Indictments on Election Meddling & Social Media Responsibility

Official Statement from AAI Executive Director Maya Berry

(Washington) The following is a statement from Arab American Institute Executive Director Maya Berry on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Indictments Regarding Election Meddling:

While today’s indictments confirm what any observer of the 2016 presidential election already knows, it remains difficult to accept the nature of the attack on our political system and the impact it had on our election, and the communities, organizations and individuals it targeted, including American Muslims and Black Lives Matter activists.  As an organization whose mission includes civic and electoral engagement, we are disheartened and disturbed to see the integrity of our campaigns and elections undermined this way. 

Now, both the Trump Administration and the social media companies that drive the vast majority of our information must take this threat more seriously. The Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, already noted on Tuesday, “There should be no doubt that Russia perceives its past efforts as successful and views the 2018 U.S. midterm elections as a potential target for Russian influence operations.” Our government must act to protect our upcoming midterm elections.

Finally, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and any other social media platform utilized must do more to prevent the fraudulent impersonation of individuals and organizations and the spread of bigotry and hate on their sites. Social media was the vehicle that weaponized this interference. They must change their practices to protect our political environment and guard against the continued hate and lies on their sites. Those who want to harm us, to divide us, have already used and will continue to use anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant bigotry and racism as their weapon. It is unquestionable that the chilling activities described in the indictment not only negatively impact our democracy but they also facilitate voter suppression of minority communities. We must push back against this instinct. While policy changes are underway, our social networks need to do their job if we are to succeed. They must do a much better job of enforcing their own community standards, rooting out fake accounts, and prohibiting the use of their platforms to sow hatred and to organize rallies and events.

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Founded in 1985, the Arab American Institute (AAI) is a nonprofit organization committed to the civic and political empowerment of Americans of Arab descent.  AAI provides policy, research and public affairs services to support a broad range of community activities. For more information please visit