Civil Rights Audit Shows Need for Board-Level Change
WASHINGTON, DC — The following is a statement from Madihha Ahussain, Muslim Advocates’ special counsel for anti-Muslim bigotry, on the release of Facebook’s second update on its civil rights audit. Muslim Advocates, along with Color of Change, Center for Media Justice and many other partners urged Facebook to conduct this audit. After the first audit update was made public by Facebook in December 2018, Muslim Advocates and more than 30 organizations called for board-level changes at the company to ensure accountability:
“We appreciate that Facebook has acknowledged its role in undermining elections and voting rights, especially those of people of color, and is attempting to make progress on those fronts. However, this latest audit update shows that on issues regarding content moderation and the increased threat of white nationalist violence, the company has failed to take meaningful action. The murder of 51 Muslims in Christchurch broadcast all over the world on Facebook Live, made it clear that this is a life and death matter—still, the company has yet to take serious action to protect our community. Importantly, the audit process will not be successful if Facebook does not take seriously and implement the audit team’s recommendations for improving content moderation.
In addition, instead of building a permanent, board and staff-level civil rights infrastructure with the expertise needed to address this crisis, Facebook has chosen to take perfunctory half-steps all while anti-Muslim bigots and white nationalists continue to use the company’s platforms to organize and spread hatred and bigotry. Further, the burden still remains on victimized community members to report content and hope that the company will address the problem. Facebook’s piecemeal approach to these issues will not result in long-term solutions, and the time has come for the company to honor its commitment to fix these problems.
Facebook’s announcement that it will convert an ad hoc, interdepartmental collaboration of current staff tasked with addressing civil rights concerns into a permanent configuration will not result in meaningful change. It is clear that Facebook’s leadership continues to fail on this front. The update today confirms that demands for reforms to Facebook’s board are still necessary, including:
- Mark Zuckerberg stepping down as board chair,
- Sheryl Sandberg stepping down from the board,
- Increased diversity on the board and,
- A board-level civil rights expert and ombudsman.
If Facebook has the capability to proactively remove content that violates its policies such as child pornography or ISIS-inspired speech and rhetoric, then it has the capability to remove anti-Muslim and white nationalist content just as aggressively. It is just choosing not to do so. There is no more time for cosmetic half-measures. Bold, structural change is needed now and that must start with Facebook’s board.”
Muslim Advocates is a national civil rights organization working in the courts, in the halls of power and in communities to halt bigotry in its tracks. We ensure that American Muslims have a seat at the table with expert representation so that all Americans may live free from hate and discrimination.