Civil rights groups were calling for a major leadership change at Facebook one day after a damning report confirmed how the social media giant allowed Russia to use its platform to target African-Americans in the 2016 election.
More than two dozen groups sent a joint letter on Tuesday to CEO Mark Zuckerberg urging him and COO Sheryl Sandberg to step down from their roles and asking for a restructuring of the board, pointing to their “profound disappointment regarding Facebook’s role in generating bigotry and hatred towards vulnerable communities and civil rights organizations.”
The letter was signed by 32 organizations that included the NAACP, MoveOn.org, Muslim Advocates and the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“It’s become abundantly clear that, as currently constituted, your leadership team is unable to adequately address the valid concerns of the civil rights community. It is now time for significant changes in, not only your policies, but also your leadership structure,” the letter stated.
A report released on Monday found that a Russia-backed team used an array of tactics to suppress turnout among Democrats through social media outlets, especially Facebook and Instagram (which Facebook bought in 2012). The efforts focused on developing Black audiences and disproportionately recruited unwitting African-American activists who were sometimes paid to stage rallies to create turmoil. Their aim was to help elect Donald Trump president, according to the report.
In response, the NAACP called on Congress to conduct additional investigations into Facebook. Derrick Johnson, the organization’s president and CEO, told NewsOne that the report added urgency to its “LogOut Facebook” digital protest planned to start Tuesday.
This wasn’t the first time civil rights groups complained to Facebook.
“For years, many of us have engaged directly with your company in good faith, seeking change from within the company that we hoped would address a range of civil rights, privacy, and safety problems resulting from abuse and mismanagement of the platform, including engaging in an on-going audit of the civil rights impact of your policies and programs, as well as how the platform has been used by hate groups, political entities, and others to stoke racial or religious resentment or violence,” Tuesday’s letter said.
However, it was unlikely that Zuckerberg, who has been under an avalanche of criticism from European Union lawmakers to members of Congress, will step down. Zuckerberg has voting control over the board and cannot be ousted. He has already said in November that he will not resign.