Before the 2020 presidential election, Facebook had the opportunity to prevent voter repression against black Americans. Instead, it and other civil liberties issues have stumbled, according to a new independent civil rights audit released on Wednesday.
The audit, commissioned by Facebook and conducted over two years by civil rights experts and lawyers, comes as Facebook faces public outrage for racism and disinformation on the site, with major advertisers severing ties with the company. Although the social media giant took some steps to curb hate speech and to prevent election mediation after the 2011 election, it has made significant inroads, observers have found.
“In this report, the company outlines a number of positive and consequential steps,” the observers wrote, “but at this point in history, observers have expressed concern that the worrying and heartbreaking decisions made by Facebook may obscure these gains.” By. “
The report comes a day after a catastrophic meeting with civil rights leaders over issues raised in the audit. These leaders criticized Facebook, saying “we have been tried to say the same old thing without meeting our demands.”
In a report released on Wednesday, the auditors expressed apparent reluctance to take action against politicians who violated Facebook’s hate speech and the site. Although Facebook defended some of the positions required for free expression, investigators argued that the unequal application of the site’s rules meant “creating a classification of speech that relied on some strong voices to benefit some voices.”
Observers said they raised concerns in July 2019 that “domestic political forces” could use the site to suppress minority – especially black – votes. (Before the 2011 Russian election, Russian trolls engaged in a similar tactic, buying targeted ads that discouraged voters in districts critical of black voting.) Facebook’s decision to exempt politicians from its fact-checking program was highlighted by observers.
“The civil rights community was deeply disappointed and apprehensive about the impact of these decisions on our democratic processes, especially on marginalized populations,” the auditors wrote. “In their view, Facebook has given the platform more power to make false, voter-suppressing and divisive statements than the average user.”
Social media organizations have fought to remove chaos from politicians, especially President Donald Trump who has repeatedly used his Internet presence to post content that might otherwise violate the rules of the website. Twitter recently unveiled a policy to flag some of Trump’s tweets when they violated the Terms of Service, but the tweets were not removed.
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, appeared to discuss the policy after President Donald Trump wrote a violent post about protesters, saying “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Zuckerberg initially defended Facebook’s inaction against the post, even as his own staff resigned or resigned in the decision. Late last month, after protests from a huge advertiser, Zuckerberg announced that Facebook would ban hate speech in ads, although the policy does not appear to target Trump’s posts.
Jessica Gonzalez, co-chief executive of the civil rights group Free Press, said the report indicated an unprecedented response from Facebook.
“Facebook’s policy and implementation has deliberately ignored and even enabled the issue of hateful manslaughter on platforms, including 100 active white officers,” Gonzalez said in a statement. “There should be no‘ ultimate ’civil rights audit when hate and misinformation about elections endangers our lives and democracy. Mark Zuckerberg can’t stop Facebook from spreading hateful activities when he fails to acknowledge that protecting people of color from danger is what the platform is doing in our lives. “
It is a feeling shared by other civil rights groups. The group of Muslim advocates pointed to anti-Muslim activities on the site. (Facebook was used in a live stream of the genocide of 51 Muslims in a New Zealand mosque last year and has been identified as a major contributor to the genocide of Muslims in countries like Myanmar.)
“The audit exposes Facebook in a variety of ways to shamefully harm Muslims and other vulnerable communities, but even more embarrassing is the fact that organizations have refused to do anything meaningful to stop this pain and violence,” Muslim advocates said in a statement. Expert on bigotry and to formulate policies to ban discriminatory practices.
In a detailed statement Wednesday morning, Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg acknowledged that Facebook fell short in hiring civil rights experts and preventing voter repression. He announced Facebook’s commitment to recruiting more diversified staff and investing in black-owned businesses. He did not indicate the plan to address some of the auditor’s suggestions, such as fact-checking political discourse.
“Facebook stands firmly against hate,” Sandberg wrote. “Having a platform where everyone can hear their voices is the core of our mission, but that doesn’t mean spreading hatred among people is acceptable. It’s not. “