Civil Rights Groups Press Zuckerberg To Curb Influence Campaigns That Weaponize Racial Experience

By National Urban League
Published 11 PM EST, Sun Jan 26, 2020

NEW YORK –  The National Urban League has joined a coalition of  civil rights, public interest, labor, faith, and technology organizations to urge Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg to consider the “protection of civil rights as a fundamental obligation as serious as any other goal of the company.”

In a letter to Zuckerberg, following recent policy changes to exempt politicians’ speech from its Community Standards and fact-checking program, the organizations said:

“We write today because our trust in the company is sorely broken. Despite years of dialogue and a partially complete civil rights audit, Facebook continues to act with reckless disregard for civil rights… Thus, despite grand promises on many fronts, we are left with no guarantee that Facebook can prevent any new product or policy from threatening civil and human rights.”

The House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday, October 23, entitled “An Examination of Facebook and Its Impact on the Financial Services and Housing Sectors,” where Zuckerberg will be the sole witness.

The groups outline structural changes that Facebook must make to address the serious civil rights problems created by the platform. These changes include:

  • Eliminate the ability to discriminate unfairly in targeting for education, insurance, healthcare, and public accommodations advertisements; increase transparency for Facebook’s ad delivery systems so that any discriminatory impacts can be identified and rectified; and preserve the ability for advertisers – especially employers – to engage in affirmative outreach to underrepresented communities, as required by federal law.
  • Publicly name, hire, and staff an office of civil rights that will review and test all new products and policies. The office must be led by a C-Suite level officer responsible for, and with extensive expertise in, civil rights.
  • Install an independent and permanent civil rights ombudsman office that reports directly to the Board of Directors.
  • Diversify the Board of Directors and include candidates with civil rights expertise.
  • Increase the data regularly released as part of Facebook’s transparency report and significantly improve the ability of researchers to study the impact of Facebook’s policies and products.

To download to the join letter Click Here.