Protecting a Free and Open Society: PEN America speaks out about the Facebook debacle

PEN America nonprofit logo courtesy of Mltellman  under CC BY-SA 4.0

“It’s difficult to imagine the power that you’re going to have when so many different sorts of data are available.”– Tim Berners-Lee, father of the World Wide Web

In response to last week’s revelations on the use of Facebook consumer data to target voters in the United States and abroad, PEN America Chief Executive Officer Suzanne Nossel issued the following statement:

PEN, Exc. Dir. Suzanne Nossel

“This week’s revelations about the uncontrolled flow of consumer data from Facebook to unscrupulous influence peddlers determined to manipulate voters in the United States and abroad have jolted the public into really recognizing that platforms we delight in for communication and connection can pose grave risks to our privacy, our discourse, and our democracy. That company and other leading platforms need to be far more aggressive in protecting data, vetting their business partners and customers, and offering the public the transparency and accountability necessary to restore trust. While Americans have the choice to forswear Facebook in favor of other channels, elsewhere in the world it is virtually the only route to online access. Having secured its own ubiquity and preeminence, Facebook now owes it to the public to prove that it is worthy of the position it has staked.”

Find out more about PEN America’s position on personal data and privacy, the protection of open discourse, and the transparency and accountability online platforms owe their users HERE.


PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. PEN champions the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Its mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.