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8 Jul 2020

Abby Phillip, CNN Business

Facebook audit paints 'deeply troubling' picture of company's response to Trump posts, civil rights issues

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Facebook continues to operate with glaring blind spots for hateful content and misinformation on the site and has made a number of decisions in the last year that "represent significant setbacks for civil rights," according to a highly anticipated audit of the company's practices. The report, which was commissioned by Facebook and put together by a team of civil rights attorneys over a two-year period, raised concerns about "vexing and heartbreaking decisions" made by the social network, including its decision not to take action on multiple controversial posts from President Donald Trump and being "far too reluctant to adopt strong rules to limit misinformation and voter suppression" with the 2020 election only months away.

... While the report commended the company for taking some steps over the two-year period to put in place more stringent controls on its content, it also stated that auditors were "deeply concerned that the last two years were not used to put a more robust civil rights infrastructure in place at Facebook."... "We believe civil rights expertise was not sought and applied to the degree it should have been and the resulting decisions were devastating," the report said. "Our fear was (and continues to be) that these decisions establish terrible precedent for others to emulate."... Facebook has now committed to hiring a senior executive at the vice president level with civil rights experience to oversee the company's application of civil rights priorities.

... "What has become increasingly clear is that we have a long way to go," said Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, who has been the point person for the company's efforts to address civil rights concerns. "As hard as it has been to have our shortcomings exposed by experts, it has undoubtedly been a really important process for our company. We would urge companies in our industry and beyond to do the same."

Part of the following timelines

USA: Civil rights groups call on Facebook to stop use of its platform to spread hate & violence & to ensure greater accountability of leadership

Independent audit of Facebook finds that some decisions were "significant setbacks for civil rights"; incl. company comments