Facebook falls through Civil Rights Audit

The examiners of the civil rights commission are concerned. Facebook’s handling of hate speech and critical political content continues to influence elections and the spread of fake news.

A 89-page report Facebook acknowledges what critics have long denounced publicly: dealing with hate speech is too lax, the platform influences voting and the distribution of fake news is too easy. These results are also provided by the Civil Rights Audit, which Facebook approved two years ago at the urging of the public.

Dealing with Trump’s posts alarms the auditors

The report says Faceboook has made significant progress in the past two years. Above all, dealing with the posts of US President Donald Trump caused the auditors to ring the alarm bells. The report says:

Facebook’s decisions in May of 2020 to let stand on three posts by President Trump, have caused considerable alarm for the Auditors and the civil rights community. One post allowed the propagation of hate/violent speech and two facilitated voter suppression. In all three cases Facebook asserted that the posts did not violate its Community Standards.

Trump used racist connotations in the posts and threatened the # BlackLivesMatter demonstrators with violence. While Twitter marked the President’s posts, they are still fully visible on Facebook.

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Facebook: „ It is the beginning of the journey, not the end.“

In the report on the Civil Right Audit, the auditors found that the social media group was not sufficiently able to identify polarizing issues in good time. Even worse: the Facebook algorithm would give critical content an even greater reach. The committee therefore calls for Facebook to build a better infrastructure for dealing with civil rights issues and hate speech. Sheryl Sandberg, Co-CEO bei Facebook, writes in one Blog postthat the platform still has a long way to go. The statement says:

Facebook stands firmly against hate. Being a platform where everyone can make their voice heard is core to our mission, but that doesn’t mean it’s acceptable for people to spread hate. It’s not. We have clear policies against hate — and we strive constantly to get better and faster at enforcing them. We have made real progress over the years, but this work is never finished and we know what a big responsibility Facebook has to get better at finding and removing hateful content. […] This audit has been a deep analysis of how we can strengthen and advance civil rights at every level of our company — but it is the beginning of the journey, not the end. What has become increasingly clear is that we have a long way to go.

Criticism of Facebook is getting louder: # StopHateForProfit campaign calls for changes in the handling of hate speech

The timing for the publication of the Civil Rights Audit report is extremely inconvenient for Facebook. Because the social media company is already criticized for its lax handling of hate speech. In July the # StopHateForProfit campaign started, which is already over 900 companies take part. This calls on advertisers to take a stand against hate speech by not placing any advertisements on the platform in July. Facebook is already losing billions of dollars in revenue. Nevertheless, founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that he didn’t want to change anything about the platform’s handling of hateful content. It is uncertain whether the Civil Right Audit report can change its mind.