May 2, 2018
Issue: Corporate Accountability
Muslim Advocates Applauds Facebook Announcement of Civil Rights Audit
Announcement Comes After Years of Organizing and Effort from Muslim Advocates and Partners
Washington, DC – The following is a reaction from Madihha Ahussain, special counsel for anti-Muslim bigotry at Muslim Advocates, to Facebook’s announcement that it would conduct a much-needed civil rights and privacy audit. Muslim Advocates has been meeting with Facebook for years about these issues and recently led several coalition letters and efforts alongside many other civil rights groups like Color of Change, the Center for Media Justice, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights in calling for a full accounting of the many major bigotry and discrimination issues the company has hosted and defended on its platform:
“Facebook’s commitment to conduct a company-wide civil rights audit in response to long standing requests from Muslim Advocates and civil rights groups is an important step for a company that continues to reckon with its role in propagating bigotry and discrimination. Much work remains to be done but it’s a promising sign that they are bringing on seasoned civil rights advocates like Laura Murphy and Relman, Dane & Colfax.
For this audit to be a true step forward, it must be a thorough and public assessment of the civil rights and privacy impact of the company’s policies and programs, as well as a review of how the platform has been used by hate groups, political entities, and others to stoke racial or religious resentment or violence and how advertisers have used the platform to sidestep established civil rights law. Facebook must also commit to share the findings publicly in a report and take action accordingly to remedy gaps in their policies and practices.
Companies like Airbnb have used audits like these to take responsibility for their platforms; they’ve hired seasoned professionals, listened to them, and made corrections to ensure that their platform doesn’t only serve the most privileged members of society.
We are concerned, however, about the pairing of this announcement with another that Facebook will be bringing on advisors responsible for determining bias against conservatives. We strongly reject the message this sends regarding the moral equivalency of hate group activities and conservative viewpoints. Despite this concern, we hope this first step is a sign that Facebook will begin to take responsibility for the hate and bigotry that has flourished on its platform.”
Muslim Advocates is a national legal advocacy and educational organization that works on the frontlines of civil rights to guarantee freedom and justice for Americans of all faiths.