connectVideoFacebook the tipping point?
Why 2018 could be seen as a canary in the coal mine for Facebook.
A coalition of civil rights organization hit Facebook to generate hatred and intolerance” in a Tuesday letter to the CEO and the president of Mark Zuckerberg.
The open letter signed by 31 different groups, including Islamic Lawyers, MoveOn, CREDO, MomsRising, the National LGBTQ Task Force, United We Dream, and Million Hoodies Movement for Justice – hits, the tech-giant for not following repeated warnings about hate speech and groups that benefit from the ubiquitous social network to stoke religious, racial or political resentment.
“We asked you to take immediate action to stop abuse on the platform. Recent news demonstrates, however, that Facebook is not only looking the other way, in response to our objections, but also actively work to undermine the efforts of those who seek to hold the company responsible for abuse on the platform,” the letter states.
The line above is a reference to Facebook’s hiring of a GOP-linked company, that among other things if the liberal financier George Soros was shorting the shares of the company, after he labeled the tech giant a “threat” in a speech early this year. According to critics, the company, Definers of Public Affairs, used anti-Semitic tropes to establish Soros.
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“You need to handle that leveling legitimate criticisms against Facebook as your enemies, that you jeopardized the safety and security of people who live their lives dedicated to the common good,” the letter says. “This decision crossed all lines of decency.”
The letter calls for a series of major changes to the Menlo Park, Calif.-based company, including that Zuckerberg and Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg both stepped down from the board of directors as long as they retain their current titles; that the company to expand the board by at least three members “represent the diversity” of the 2.2 billion active monthly users; and that the board of directors shall appoint an independent and permanent civil rights of the ombudsman, which also serve as a member of the board of directors, “implement a consistent and ongoing reviews of the civil rights implications of Facebook’s policies and practices.”
On Tuesday, Sandberg released an update on the tech giant of the civil rights of the audit, the COO said is one of her priorities for 2019 and very important to her. The constant surveillance maintained by Laura Murphy, a prominent D. C. civil rights and civil liberties leader.
The civil rights audit update, which argues that Murphy’s team has spent hundreds of hours meeting with the attorneys from the communities representing 90 different organizations, is in the first place, a review of previously announced policy changes and updates from 2018 to address civil society groups’ concerns about voter suppression, content moderation and enforcement, advertising, algorithmic bias, privacy, transparency, responsibility and diversity.
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“We have witnessed a certain progress and concrete results, including the changes, improvements, enforcement, and transparency in certain areas,” Murphy, who worked 17 years as the ACLU legislative office director, said in the update. “Facebook has sought to deepen its involvement in the civil rights community through this process.”
For 2019, Facebook plans to focus first on making more progress in the area of content moderation, which the company has said about an area that is always being worked on, and the creation of a “civil rights accountability infrastructure” to “ensure that the changes are systemic” so that civil rights, are considered as the front-end as Facebook rolls out new products, features, and policies.
Still, civil rights advocates pushed back hard on the audit update and said that they expect much more of Zuckerberg’s social network.
“Muslim Lawyers and our partners demanded this audit in 2017. Laura Murphy’s thorough preliminary report makes it clear that Facebook has done little to meaningfully address the intolerance and discrimination in the platform. Sheryl Sandberg introduction indicates a lack of understanding that, after years and years of abuse, major reforms are urgently needed now,” said Muslim Advocates’ special council for anti-Muslim bigotry, Madihha Ahussain, in a statement.
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Ahussain continued: “We stand with our letter demanding serious changes to Facebook’s board of directors. The council is not in a position to make his administration accountable, it does not match with the demographic data of the user of the community, and not understanding the civil rights and serious reforms are necessary for the protection of vulnerable communities.”
“This report is long on excuses and very little meaningful progress. It is not enough to only identify the many challenges that we have explained Facebook. It is difficult to take seriously a paper-thin promise, without a timeline, benchmarks or accountability mechanism,” according to a statement from Color of Change, a racial justice organization that has a meeting with the Sandberg middle of the Definers of controversy.
Color of Change continues to demand a C-Suite level, “Chief User Advocate” who would work in close consultation with civil rights groups, a public report with recommendations and a timeline for implementation, the creation of a public committee or task force that has all the resources necessary for the implementation of any changes to the audit and the release of all documents produced by Definers of Public Affairs and other companies used to undermine the credibility of civil rights organizations.
In two reports released this week and prepared for the U.S. Senate, Facebook has been off making a huge Russia-campaign that sowed racial and political divisions in the U.S., it systematically targeted African-Americans and tried to recruit them as “assets” in the years before the 2016 presidential elections.
At the conclusion of the post, Murphy notes that Facebook plans to issue another civil rights audit update in 2019.
Separately, the NAACP back on monetary gift from Facebook and asks users to log out of the social network and the other platforms that it owns, on Tuesday, because the company’s “engagement with party politics, companies, the targeting of political opponents, the spread of disinformation and the use of Facebook for propaganda to promote unfair portrayals of the African-American community.”