November 17, 2020
Issue: Corporate Accountability
Senators Hold Facebook Accountable for Anti-Muslim Hate
Zuckerberg Dodges Responsibility for Facebook’s Kenosha Failure
WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee. At the hearing, Sens. Richard Blumenthal, Dick Durbin and Chris Coons all asked Zuckerberg about Facebook’s anti-Muslim problem. Yesterday, Sen. Coons and 14 other senators also sent Zuckerberg a letter asking him to address anti-Muslim hate on Facebook. Muslim Advocates supported the senators on the letter.
At the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Sen. Coons also specifically asked Zuckerberg about Facebook’s failure to enforce a call to arms policy regarding a local militia’s Facebook event page in Kenosha, WI—as reported by BuzzFeed News. In response to Sen. Coons, Zuckerberg indicated that the Kenosha Guard event page did not violate the call to arms policy. He also said some calls to arms on Facebook are “context-specific” and require a higher level of expertise and said not all reviewers have that expertise. The following is a response from Muslim Advocates Executive Director Farhana Khera:
“Mark Zuckerberg was evasive and misleading at best when responding to Sen. Coons’s question about Facebook’s failure to enforce its call to arms policy in Kenosha. Facebook’s call to arms policy requires content reviewers to escalate complaints about a call to arms to experts. Zuckerberg himself said to Coons that ‘some of these [calls to arms] are context-specific and just require a higher level of context and expertise in the area to enforce.’ The problem in Kenosha, and what Zuckerberg did not address at the hearing, was that the reviewers never escalated complaints about the call to arms there because they were never instructed to do so. This possibly helped contribute to violence and a loss of life. Zuckerberg’s non-answer is more proof that there is no mechanism at Facebook to ensure that the call to arms policy can actually function as he says it should.
Even more importantly, Zuckerberg has now suddenly indicated that the Kenosha Guard event page did not violate the call to arms policy. This is a direct contradiction of what Facebook has communicated to civil rights advocates and of a fair reading of the policy itself. Facebook’s constantly changing explanations of why the policy failed and how it even works adds further evidence that the company isn’t serious about creating policies that will actually protect our safety and security.”
For more than half a decade, Muslim Advocates has worked to hold Facebook accountable for the anti-Muslim hate and violence enabled by the platform. This work includes helping lead the call for the company to undergo an independent civil rights audit and releasing a report documenting Facebook’s global anti-Muslim problem.
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.