Facebook fails to convince the Civil-rights groups with respect to its efforts about the hate-speech conundrum

Civil-rights groups are still not convinced by Facebook that it is doing enough to combat hate speech on the giant platform. Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg; COO, Sheryl Sandberg; and CPO, Chris Cox, held a meeting with the leaders of the NAACP, Free Press, Color of Change, and Anti-Defamation League so they could address their concerns over its hate speech policies.

The civil-rights groups called the hour-long meeting a disappointment. They also said that Facebook is not ready to address the venomous hate on their platform.

ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said that they saw little and heard almost nothing about the issue that concerns them. He added that they didn’t get any time-frames or commitments or clear outcomes that were expected from Facebook officials.

The groups organized a Facebook ad boycott last month, which more than 400 companies agreed to join, in response to its inaction on controversial posts by President Donald Trump. Reuters reported that multiple discussions with Facebook officials took place, with the organizers of the boycott demanding that Zuckerberg personally attends them. This is because he is considered the ultimate authority of the platform. But even with Facebook’s top leadership present, they were unsuccessful in convincing the groups that actions indeed were being taken.

The groups discussed 10 demands with Facebook, including hiring C-suite-level executive with civil-rights expertise, conducting public and independent civil-rights audits, changing Facebook’s moderation policies around hate-speech and misinformation, refunding advertisers whose ads are shown next to hate speech, and also introducing live customer support for users who are being hated on or are being harassed.

The groups said that of all the demands, Facebook only partly addressed hiring a civil-rights expert but did not attempt to address the others. The groups also said that instead of responding to the demands of the advertisers that have joined the #StopHateForProfit ad boycott, Facebook wants them to accept the same old response.

A Facebook representative said that the meeting was an opportunity for them to hear from the campaign organizers and reassure them of their commitment to combat hate on their platform, which is why it is so important for them to work and get this right. Also adding that Facebook has taken various steps to combat hate speech, including investing people and financial resources, introducing new policies addressing misinformation, and banning hate groups on the platform.

Although Sandberg said that the company would not follow every recommendation, Facebook does plan to release its civil-rights audit, which began in 2018.

The amount of criticism that Facebook has to face regarding curbing hate speech is increasing day by day. Employees at Facebook as well as Zuckerberg’s philanthropic initiative protested when Zuckerberg defended his decision not to take action on Trump’s posts. The Washington Post reported that Facebook had crafted exemptions for the president from 2015, so they had to act according to their policy.


Photo: Bloomberg

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