Facebook’s “vexing and heartbreaking” decisions cause significant setbacks for civil rights, according to an audit commissioned by the company.
The two-year review indicates that his actions have left many activists “disheartened, frustrated and angry.”
Facebook has already said it would make some – but not all – of the changes requested in the 100-page report.
The official number of advertisers boycotting Facebook over its civil rights policy is now close to 1,000.
Facebook commissioned the review in May 2018, a month after founder Mark Zuckerberg was faced with intense questioning during a congressional hearing.
“With each success, listeners have more hope that Facebook would develop a more coherent and positive action plan that would demonstrate, in words and deeds, the company’s commitment to civil rights,” he said.
“Unfortunately, in our opinion, Facebook’s approach to civil rights remains too reactive and fragmentary.
“Many members of the civil rights community are discouraged, frustrated and angry after years of engagement where they have implored the company to do more to promote equality and fight discrimination while preserving the freedom of ‘expression. ”
But the audit report also commends Facebook for the progress it has made in certain areas, such as improving its consultations with advocacy groups.
Facebook said the report was “the start of the journey, not the end.”
“What has become increasingly clear is that we have a long way to go,” he added.
“As difficult as it was to have our gaps exposed by experts, it was undoubtedly a really important process for our business. ”
Auditors also referred to Facebook’s decision to allow the publication of a controversial article by US President Donald Trump on the platform.
- Facebook staff angry at Trump
- Zuckerberg accused of creating dangerous precedent
“When it means that powerful politicians don’t have to follow the same rules as everyone else, a hierarchy of speech is created that privileges certain voices over less powerful voices,” the report said.
It calls for:
- a more effective policy to combat the suppression of voters that “bans content like Trump’s polling stations” and more consistent application before the US presidential election in early November
- civil rights must be “more visible” and make it a constant priority in Facebook’s decision-making
- Facebook will invest more in the fight against “organized hatred” against Muslims, Jews and other groups
- a ban on “praise” and “support” for the ideas that underlie white nationalism “even when the terms themselves are not used”
- more concrete and specific actions to address concerns about biases in business algorithms
“This report describes a number of positive and consistent steps the company has taken, but at this point in history, listeners are concerned that these gains may be obscured by disturbing and heartbreaking Facebook decisions, which represent setbacks. important for civil rights, “he adds.
Chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said the audit had already had a “profound effect” on the business and Facebook had already followed up on many of its recommendations.
“Although we are not making all of the requested changes, we will soon be putting more of their proposals into practice,” she said.
She also noted that two years ago, the company could not predict that the audit would be released during a major advertising boycott of Facebook.
The boycott organizers said a meeting with Facebook senior management this week, including Ms. Sandberg and Mr. Zuckerberg, was “disappointing.”
“It was perfectly clear at our meeting today that Mark Zuckerberg and the Facebook team are not yet ready to tackle vitriolic hatred on their platform,” said Stop Hate for Profit. , adding that the company would not directly meet the requirements to boycott it.
And he accused Mr Zuckerberg of offering “the same old defense” that society had “heard too many times before.”
“Facebook wants us to accept the same old rhetoric, repackaged as a new response,” he said.
Color of Change president Rashad Robinson also said the meeting “was a disappointment.”
Analysis: a bad look
By James Clayton, technology journalist in North America
This audit is a grim read for Facebook.
What makes it so important is that the report examines whether Facebook itself is leading people to extremism.
“Facebook should do everything in its power to prevent its tools and algorithms from driving people to increasingly extremist echo chambers,” he said.
And it’s not just a criticism, there are nasty stuff on the platform.
It is a criticism that the platform itself can lead to hatred.
Failure to act can have real and potentially deadly consequences in the real world, the report said.
And that will give new impetus to the boycott of Facebook ads that had calmed down a bit in recent days.
Meanwhile, it appeared that the much-loved Facebook supervisory board won’t be launched until late fall. The board of directors will be an independent body that can decide what type of content can and cannot be on Facebook – with the power to overturn the company’s own decisions.
When questioned, the administration of the Supervisory Board said that the tweet did not necessarily mean that the start date would be after the US presidential election on November 3.
“There has been no change in the timetable for the supervisory board to become fully operational, and we expect it to begin its work in the coming months,” he told the BBC.
“No effort is made to avoid a particular event, and the board of directors intends to start its work as soon as possible. No exact date can yet be set as the technical and operational systems are still being implemented. “