(New York)—PEN America issued the statement below from Chief Executive Officer Suzanne Nossel, in response to former Vice President Joseph Biden’s announcement on Friday on illicit campaign tactics and disinformation:

“We applaud Friday’s announcement that former Vice President Joseph Biden will eschew the use of illicit campaign tactics and disinformation in his 2020 presidential bid. The Biden campaign has promised not to “fabricate, use or spread data or materials that were falsified, fabricated, doxed or stolen” and to avoid using bot networks or doctored images—including deepfakes—to attack other candidates. The former Vice President is right to get out in front of the battle to combat fraudulent news and avoid a race to the bottom in which campaigns feel compelled to engage in deceptive tactics that erode the currency of truth and fray the fabric of democracy. PEN America has documented the grave threat to free expression that is resulting from the degradation of our political discourse through fraudulent information. We hope other campaigns and political party leadership will make and fulfill similar commitments. 

The Biden campaign’s commitments echo the undertakings in PEN America’s March, 2019 Model Pledge Against Fraudulent News in which we urged political campaigns and parties to refrain from creating and disseminating fraudulent news and to reject the use of fraudulent news by supporters. The full text of the pledge, contained in PEN America’s original report, Truth on the Ballot, Fraudulent News, the Midterm Elections and Prospects for 2020 is contained here. PEN America first outlined the risks to freedom of expression posed by fraudulent news in its 2017 report, Faking News: Fraudulent News and the Fight for Truth. PEN America is a non-partisan 501(c)(3) organization that does not endorse political candidates.


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