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The Joint Center Releases Joint Statement with Several Civil Rights Organizations on Facebook’s Civil Rights Audit

On July 8, the Joint Center released a joint statement with The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and several other civil rights groups on Facebook’s civil rights audit:

“This audit has laid bare what we already know — Facebook is a platform plagued by civil rights shortcomings. Facebook has an enormous impact on our civil rights — by facilitating hate speech and violence, voter and census disinformation, and algorithmic bias, and by shortchanging diversity and inclusion. This audit has exposed Facebook’s vulnerabilities and provides important recommendations that they must take up swiftly.

“We acknowledge that Facebook’s decision to conduct this audit is significant — in fact, it is the first of its kind to examine how the platform operates and the decisions it makes, both good and bad. We urge other social media platforms and technology companies to undertake similar reviews.

“We have seen progress in some areas as a result of this audit process, including on policing discriminatory and unlawful ad targeting and the creation and enforcement of a census disinformation policy. But many crucial civil rights problems remain that Facebook must address to protect our democracy and our communities. The civil rights community remains united in our commitment to pressing Facebook to address outstanding problems and to do so urgently given what is at stake. As long as the platform is being weaponized to spread hate and violence, harm vulnerable communities, and undermine our democracy, we will continue to hold the platform accountable.”

The groups noted that Facebook has much more work to do, including:

  • Building a robust civil rights infrastructure with qualified expertise and policies, and holding itself accountable to its commitments
  • Having a strong and consistent application of its own voter suppression and disinformation policies, and ending the loopholes for politicians
  • Making civil rights a priority in the company’s decisions
  • Investing more resources to tackle organized hate and violence against Muslims, Jews, and other groups targeted on the platform, both here and abroad
  • Prohibiting the glorification, support, and depictions of white nationalism, either through explicit or implicit means
  • Tackling algorithmic bias or discrimination on the platform
  • Providing a process and format through which civil rights advocates and the public can engage and monitor progress
  • Robustly enforcing its own community standards policies
  • Doing more to stop hate speech from getting through the system
  • Hiring more people of color and other minorities in crucial decision-making roles

Other signees include Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, Color Of Change, Human Rights Campaign, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Muslim Advocates, NAACP, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., National Action Network, National Urban League, UnidosUS, and Voto Latino.

As the Leadership Conference noted in their press release, civil rights groups have worked for three years to convince Facebook leadership that it must take clear and unequivocal action to address the use of its site to advance voter suppression and to intimidate and incite hate against vulnerable populations. We have also sought to share our expertise with Facebook leadership to guide and inform necessary changes, and we have encouraged the company to create an internal infrastructure of civil rights expertise to inform change.

This statement comes after the Joint Center released a joint statement with The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and several other civil rights groups on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s latest policy announcement on hate speech and voter disinformation.

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