Facebook fuels racial hatred and violence


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Carolyn Wysinger is a teacher and activist who says Facebook censors her from discussing racism online, sometimes locking her out of her account.

USA TODAY

After meeting with Facebook executives Tuesday, civil rights leaders ripped into the company and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg, setting the stage for further conflict. 

“Mark Zuckerberg and the Facebook team is not yet ready to address the vitriolic hate on their platform. Zuckerberg offered the same old defense of white supremacist, antisemitic, Islamophobic and other hateful groups on Facebook that the Stop Hate For Profit Coalitions, advertisers and society at large have heard too many times before,” the coalition of civil rights group said in a statement. 

According to the civil rights leaders who attended, Zuckerberg agreed to hire a high-level executive with civil rights expertise during the meeting, which lasted a little over an hour, but made no concessions, including on Facebook’s controversial handling of President Trump’s posts.

What civil rights groups want: For Facebook to stop hate speech and harassment of Black users

Top brands pull ads: But will the Facebook advertising boycott force the company to change?

The civil rights groups have led nearly 1,000 companies to pull millions of dollars in advertising from the social media giant to protest the spread of hate speech, violent threats and misinformation. 

NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson told reporters Tuesday that the civil rights groups left Tuesday’s meeting “with nothing” and no response to the coalition’s list of 10 demands. 

“We should expect more from a company like Facebook,” Johnson said. 

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said he expected the coalition of civil rights groups and advertisers would continue to grow and get louder. 

“We expected clarity, details and results,” Greenblatt said. “Unfortunately we got no details, no clarity and no results.”

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The meeting came as the three-week-old #StopHateForProfit advertising boycott gains steam.

Seizing on the public conversation over racial injustice and police brutality after the death in police custody of George Floyd to shed new light on the spread of racism and hate on Facebook and Instagram, the campaign quickly dominoed, emerging as a significant threat to Facebook’s public image.

Facebook has met before with civil rights group leaders, most recently to take issue with the company’s policy of not fact-checking politicians’ ads and its hands-off approach to President Trump’s posts.

Analysts don’t expect Facebook to take a major financial hit from the boycott. The top brands participating in the boycott represent a fraction of Facebook’s $70 billion in annual revenue and the company is still expected to have a strong quarter. But the bottom line is that Facebook earns the vast majority of its revenue from ads.

Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg and chief product officer Chris Cox also took part in Tuesday’s meeting.

“We have made real progress over the years, but this work is never finished and we know what a big responsibility Facebook has to get better at finding and removing hateful content,” Sandberg wrote in a blog post published prior to the meeting.

Sandberg said Facebook would release the final version of its years-long internal civil rights audit on Wednesday.

Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2020/07/07/mark-zuckerberg-facebook-civil-rights-meeting-racial-hatred-violence/5391560002/



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