Recommended Next Steps
In January 2021, we asked that Facebook, Twitter, Alphabet and other social media platforms #BanTrumpSaveDemocracy by permanently removing Donald Trump from their platforms.
Access to these services is a privilege, one that Donald Trump clearly forfeited based on an indisputable pattern of behavior that preceded his calls to violence on January 6. Subsequent to the coalition’s demands, some platforms did permanently ban Donald Trump, though notably Facebook did not.
On June 17th 2020, we asked businesses to temporarily pause advertising on Facebook and Instagram in order to force Mark Zuckerberg to address the effect that Facebook has had on our society. Following an incredible groundswell of support, Mr. Zuckerberg asked to meet with Stop Hate for Profit coalition leaders on July 7th 2020. During that meeting, he made clear he had no intention of taking any steps to tackle our requests.
One year later, Facebook’s progress toward these demands has been minimal at best. Unfortunately, these recommendations remain as relevant now as when we requested them from Facebook in June 2020 and we still hope that Facebook will agree and fully implement the following:
1. Establish and empower permanent civil rights infrastructure including C-suite level executive with civil rights expertise to evaluate products and policies for discrimination, bias, and hate. This person would make sure that the design and decisions of this platform considered the impact on all communities and the potential for radicalization and hate.
2. Submit to regular, third party, independent audits of identity-based hate and misinformation with summary results published on a publicly accessible website. We simply can no longer trust Facebook’s own claims on what they are or are not doing. A “transparency report” is only as good as its author is independent.
3. Provide audit of and refund to advertisers whose ads were shown next to content that was later removed for violations of terms of service. We have documented many examples of companies’ advertisements running alongside the horrible content that Facebook permits. That is not what most advertisers pay for, and they shouldn’t have to.
4. Find and remove public and private groups focused on white supremacy, militia, antisemitism, violent conspiracies, vaccine misinformation, and climate denialism.
5. Adopting common-sense changes to their policies that will help stem radicalization and hate on the platform.
6. Stop recommending or otherwise amplifying groups or content from groups associated with hate, misinformation or conspiracies to users.
7. Create an internal mechanism to automatically flag hateful content in private groups for human review. Private groups are not small gatherings of friends - but can be hundreds of thousands of people large, which many hateful groups are.
8. Ensure accuracy in political and voting matters by eliminating the politician exemption; removing misinformation related to voting; and prohibiting calls to violence by politicians in any format. Given the importance of political and voting matters for society, Facebook’s carving out an exception in this area is especially dangerous.
9. Create expert teams to review submissions of identity-based hate and harassment. Forty two percent of daily users of Facebook have experienced harassment on the platform, and much of this harassment is based on the individual’s identity. Facebook needs to ensure that their teams understand the different types of harassment faced by different groups in order to adjudicate claims.
10. Enable individuals facing severe hate and harassment to connect with a live Facebook employee. In no other sector does a company not have a way for victims of their product to seek help.
The above are not sufficient, but they are a start. Facebook is a company of incredible resources. We hope that they finally understand that society wants them to put more of those resources into doing the hard work of transforming the potential of the largest communication platform in human history into a force for good.