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32 Civil Rights Groups Lose Faith in Facebook, Call for Significant Reforms to its Board

WASHINGTON, DC – In the wake of many scandals highlighting the use of Facebook’s platforms to stoke racial, religious, and cultural animus, 31 diverse civil rights groups are now demanding core institutional reforms to Facebook’s board of directors to be more independent, accountable of senior leadership, and capable of understanding the civil rights and privacy implications for how its platforms are used.

Last night, the groups sent a letter outlining a list of attacks on vulnerable communities  on its platform that Facebook has either ignored, taken no meaningful action to fix, or actively encouraged.  As the letter states, “Facebook was not only looking the other way in response to our concerns, but has in fact been actively working to undermine efforts by those who seek to hold the company responsible for abuses on the platform.”

The letter demands that Mark Zuckerberg step down as chairman of the board while serving as CEO; Sheryl Sandberg step down from the board of directors while serving as COO; and that Facebook expand its board to make room for more diversity and expertise in civil rights and privacy.  In addition to these reforms to the board, the groups are asking that Facebook release all internal documents pertaining to opposition research of civil rights and advocacy organizations, remove Joel Kaplan from his position as the company’s head of public policy, and publicly release its entire civil rights audit by January 31, 2019.

“Facebook’s platforms have become a primary organizing tool for white nationalists and hate groups throughout America and even contributing to genocide around the world and, all the while, the company’s leadership has either looked the other way or actively stoked it,” said Farhana Khera, executive director of Muslim Advocates. “It is mind-boggling and if anything has become clear from the last few months, it’s that Facebook’s board of directors is not properly constituted to be able to do its job of oversight of the company’s mission and operations. For the good of vulnerable communities worldwide, Facebook’s board must become more independent, more diverse, and more capable of understanding the real challenges it faces.”

Signers include: Muslim Advocates, Arab American Institute, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta, Bend the Arc Jewish Action, Center for Human Technology, Center for Media Justice, Community Responders Network, CreaTV San Jose, CREDO, Emgage, Equality Labs, Freedom From Facebook, HOPE not hate, Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, MCN – Muslim Community Network, Media Matters for America, Million Hoodies Movement for Justice, MomsRising, MoveOn, MPower Change, Muslim Youth Collective, NAACP, National LGBTQ Task Force, National Network for Arab American Communities / The Campaign to TAKE ON HATE, South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), Southern Poverty Law Center, The Sikh Coalition, UltraViolet, United We Dream, Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center, Voting Rights Forward, Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual (WATER)