A group of racial justice organizations wants Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to resign immediately after the explosive release of leaked internal documents. Kairos, 18 Million Rising, Media Justice, Action Center on Race and the Economy, MPower Change and U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights released a statement outlining how Facebook has misled the public and officials on the platform’s steps to address hate speech and disinformation on its site.
Facebook has suggested over and over again that it takes down nearly 96% of hate speech, but, in reality, newly released documents suggest Facebook was removing only 5% or less of hate speech. Facebook’s persistent actions to undermine content moderation are the latest evidence that Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook leadership will continue to sacrifice the safety of our communities to line their pockets.
No number of P.R. stunts thinly veiled as solidarity in support of Black lives can sweep Facebook’s neglect of its users and the violence it is perpetuating under the rug. For too long, Facebook has operated with unprecedented immunity from meaningful oversight and, as a result, has continued to prime the spigot of hate content from extremist groups on Black and other marginalized communities, both domestically and abroad. Rather than serving as a true public forum, Facebook has helped to suppress the voices of human rights advocates in nations such as India, Palestine, Myanmar while building inroads for threats of violence and political misinformation to fester.
The groups are a part of a larger effort to send a message to Facebook with an organized logout scheduled for Nov. 10
“Facebook pretends it’s not accountable to anyone, but the truth is this: users make or break Facebook’s business model,” reads the Facebook Logout site. “Ninety-eight percent of Facebook’s revenue comes from advertising, and Facebook relies on our engagement on its platforms to target ads to us. We can show Facebook that we have power by refusing to engage with their platform, even for a temporary period.”
According to the groups, Facebook and Zuckerberg had reason to know of the incitement happening on the platform. The platform created a fake A.I. account programmed as a Trump supporter, and within days its newsfeed flooded with polarizing and misleading content that broke various Facebook rules. A CNN report explained that the Facebook employee running the account found that when they decreased using Facebook, the platform would send push notifications to encourage using the site. But Facebook pushed posts linking fake news that was likely to drive engagement but false.
While information about Facebook’s internal decision-making has been revealed in recent weeks since a whistleblower went public, the recent “Facebook Papers” have exposed disturbing issues long suspected with the organization. Seventeen news outlets collectively studied the redacted documents released to the SEC and published various articles covering the full breadth of potential misconduct.
Tech Policy Press pulled together all the reporting in one location for readers.
In addition to enabling widespread hate speech and disinformation domestically, there is evidence of the platform being used to commit human trafficking and inciting violence abroad. Facebook reportedly was aware of the way its platform was being used but did little to stop it. In fact, in Vietnam, Zuckerberg allegedly complied with the country’s political leadership in censoring anti-government posts.
But in another instance, he shot down an effort to create Spanish language voting resources on WhatsApp for fear of appearing partisan at home in the U.S.
The Associated Press reported an account of Apple nearly removing Facebook from its app store after reports surfaced of users abroad basically using the platform to traffic domestic staff. Reporting by the Atlantic documented how Facebook disregarded warnings from staff and researchers.
Facebook has become an entrenched part of every aspect of modern life. The unchecked power and disregard for how it impacts society continues to be an ongoing concern from advocacy groups. In the middle of intense scrutiny, Facebook is working on a rebrand, including changing its name.
As Facebook whistleblower France Haugen says, this behavior would never be tolerated from a company in any other industry and just allowed to go on without repercussions.
“We would never accept a car company with faulty brakes that keeps saying, ‘We are so sorry, we are going to keep improving the brakes.’ But we hear that from Facebook over and over again,” Haugen said.