Amid increased scrutiny of Facebook’s role in generating hatred towards vulnerable communities across the world, the social media giant’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg has admitted the platform needed to do more to protect civil rights.
“We know that we need to do more: to listen, look deeper and take action to respect fundamental rights,” Sandberg said in a statement on Tuesday.
Sandberg’s statement came a day after a report commissioned by the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence revealed that actors linked to Russia targeted communities of colour in a bid to influence the 2016 US presidential election.
On Tuesday, 31 civil rights group urged Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to reorganise Facebook’s board in order to enable greater accountability of the leadership team and to allow more diverse voices at the decision-making table.
“We write to express our profound disappointment regarding Facebook’s role in generating bigotry and hatred towards vulnerable communities and civil rights organisations,” the organisations wrote in the letter.
Facebook said that it has made significant investment in safety and security of users and stays committed to working with leading US civil rights organisations to strengthen and advance civil rights on its service.
In May, Facebook accepted the call to undertake a civil rights audit and asked Laura Murphy, a civil rights and civil liberties leader, to guide the audit.
Murphy released an update on the audit on Tuesday after speaking with more than 90 civil rights organisations.
“In these first six months, Laura’s work helped us build upon crucial election-related efforts such as expanding our policy prohibiting voter suppression,” Sandberg said.
“We updated our policy to expressly ban misrepresentations about how to vote, such as claims that you can vote using an online app, and statements about whether a vote will be counted,” she added.
The Facebook COO said that other misinformation related to voting — including false claims of polling place closures, long lines, and wait times — is proactively sent to third-party fact-checkers for review.
The revised policy also prohibits threats of violence related to voting or voter registration.
This year, Facebook also added a feature that lets people ask their friends to join them in registering to vote.
“As a result of these efforts, Facebook and Instagram helped register an estimated two million people in 2018, according to our nonpartisan partner TurboVote,” Sandberg said.