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Article

19 Dec 2018

Author:
Harper Neidig, The Hill

Facebook under fire from civil rights groups

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Facebook is scrambling to reassure civil rights groups after reports prepared for Congress detailed how a Russian troll farm used its platform to try and suppress black voter turnout in the 2016 elections... "We know we need to do more,” Facebook COO Sheryl Sandburg wrote... “The civil rights audit is deeply important to me, and it’s one of my top priorities for 2019. I’m committed to overseeing its progress and making sure that it is a well-resourced, cross-company effort.” The latest controversy for Facebook comes after the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russia’s influence operations in the 2016 election, released two reports Monday from digital researchers detailing the social media disinformation campaigns... 

“The most prolific IRA efforts on Facebook and Instagram specifically targeted Black American communities and appear to have been focused on developing Black audiences and recruiting Black Americans as assets,” the report said. Those efforts included trying to persuade black people not to vote or to cast ballots for a third-party candidate in an effort to swing the 2016 vote to President Trump... The NAACP also joined the Southern Poverty Law Center and other groups on Tuesday in demanding that CEO Mark Zuckerberg step down from his other role as chairman of Facebook’s board in order to allow for better oversight of the company. 

When asked to respond, a Facebook spokesperson... not[ed] that they are working to address recent "security incidents and privacy missteps." “We understand the areas of concern that the NAACP and other civil rights groups have raised with us and we are grateful for their feedback... We have been working on our civil rights audit since May to address some of the other critiques from the NAACP and other civil rights organizations, and we will continue that work and provide periodic updates until the audit is complete.”

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