Today, Facebook is finally getting the results back for a civil rights audit ordered in 2018, and the results don’t look that great.
After two years, researchers are finding that Facebook has been rather lax in policing its content.
“The audit report … pointed to what the authors described as a series of harmful decisions, including a ‘terrible precedent’ not to intervene in posts in recent weeks by President Donald Trump, which could allow the platform to be ‘weaponized to suppress voting’,” reports Reuters.
This is against the backdrop of an existing boycott campaign where 900 advertisers have fled the platform over concerns voiced by groups like the Anti-Defamation League and NAACP.
“On June 17th, we asked companies to act against hate and disinformation being spread by Facebook in our campaign Stop Hate for Profit,” write NAACP spokespersons. “We asked advertisers to temporarily pause advertising on Facebook and Instagram in order to force Mark Zuckerberg to address the catastrophic effect that Facebook has had on our society. Companies have responded in waves. Unilever, Verizon, Patagonia, Ben and Jerry’s, North Face, Eileen Fisher, Viber and the list goes on and on. These are companies that do not want to associate their brands and their employees with what Facebook has created. And the list is growing every day, every hour, every minute.”
While Zuckerberg has made it clear that he personally hates hate speech, critics are taking aims at the company’s laissez-faire approach to misinformation and divisive political speech that can stray toward violence and treasonous falsehood.
Part of Facebook’s response included a meeting with activists that also took place today, as reported by Russell Brandom at The Verge.
“Held on Zoom, the meeting was slightly over an hour, and it included a variety of policy team leads as well as chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg and chief product officer Chris Cox,” Brandom reports. “But while the company was eager to continue a dialogue with the groups, organizers say the company failed to make any firm commitments on the 10 demands made by boycott organizers, which include prohibiting calls to violence from politicians and removing groups focused on white supremacy or Holocaust denial.”
Why is this important? Beyond being very relevant on a social level, FB is a big player in tech. Look for the fallout in FAANG stock reporting – and elsewhere – as the wrangling over Facebook’s policy continues.