Facebook pledges more action on toxic content ahead of meeting

Andrew Cummings
July 8, 2020

Sandberg added that the company "has to get better at finding and removing hateful content".

"Today we saw little and heard just about nothing", said Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt during a press conference after a coalition of groups including the ADL, the NAACP, Free Press and Color of Change met virtually with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg COO Sheryl Sandberg and others on the policy team.

González is "deeply disappointed that Facebook still refuses to hold itself accountable to its users, its advertisers and society at large".

Civil rights and activist groups blasted Facebook's leadership on Tuesday after meeting with CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other executives to discuss the demands of a large advertiser boycott that now includes hundreds of brands. While Zuckerberg announced some changes - including an expansion of Facebook's hate speech policy for ads and labels on some future posts from politicians - he stopped well short of the boycott organizers' ten recommendations.

Meanwhile, Rashad Robinson from Color of Change even criticized Facebook for "expecting an A for attendance" when it participated in the meet. "The company is functionally flawed".

But this time, Sandberg promises, Facebook will be making real, substantial changes - not because the national spotlight has shifted to the violence that these communities suffer on a day-to-day basis, but because, in Sandberg's words, it's "the right thing to do".

Facebook declined to confirm who else attended the meeting, but the boycott groups cited Chief Product Officer Chris Cox, who returned to Facebook last month after splitting with Zuckerberg in early 2019, and global affairs chief Nick Clegg.

Facebook didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Civil liberties and civil rights experts have spent two years reviewing the social media giant's policies and practices. "We know we will be judged by our actions not by our text and are grateful to these teams and quite a few other people for their ongoing engagement". And the company has, at least at first glance, gotten better at enforcing (some of) these rules: In a recent transparency report, Facebook reportedly cracked down on roughly 9.6 million posts for violating the site's standards surrounding hate speech, compared to the roughly 5.5 million posts that were caught the previous quarter. "The Ford Motor Co. can't say that 89% of our fleet has seatbelts that work", he said, adding that it would require a recall.

Facebook told Business Insider it will release a civil rights audit started in 2018, and has invested resources into combating hate, made adjustments to its policies, and banned hate groups.

The Times notes that "Facebook executives have taken an increasingly conciliatory tone as the boycott has grown", and on Wednesday the company will release the final piece of "a yearslong audit of its civil rights policies and practices". "Unfortunately, we got no details, no clarity and no results".

Following the hour-long virtual meeting, civil rights groups called it a "disappointment" and said in a statement that it was clear Facebook "is not yet ready to address the vitriolic hate on their platform". The organizers are also calling for Facebook to pledge to do regular, independent audits of hate and misinformation; remove public and private groups focused on hate or violent conspiracies and stop the recommendation and reach of such groups; and give all moderators anti-bias and hate-related training in the next 90 days.

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