Today, Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) led a group of 42 Members of Congress in a letter to Facebook Chief Executive Officer, Mark Zuckerberg, calling on the company to address the proliferation of hate speech and white supremacy across the platform, in addition to a lack of diversity within the company.
Washington (DC): The letter comes as civil rights groups have continuously asked Facebook to work toward eliminating systematic racism both on the platform and within the company.
“As the country reckons with the twin pandemics of the novel coronavirus and civil rights injustice, it is more important than ever that companies like Facebook reflect values like justice and equality. These values are necessary for our society to heal from the injustices experienced by Black Americans every day, including police violence and the health disparities made clear by the coronavirus that devastate Black and minority communities,” wrote the Members. “Each day, millions of Americans rely on Facebook to communicate with family and friends, organize groups of people, share information widely with a push of a button and advocate for issues of importance. Given the role that Facebook now plays in our society, the company must pay the highest level of attention over how its platform is used, while responding with thoughtful and responsible action. Further, Facebook has a responsibility to take meaningful steps to ensure that the company itself reflects the racial diversity of the country so that the company has a diversity of perspectives in making decisions large and small.”, said Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester.
The letter was supported by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Color of Change, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, Arab American Institute, Public Knowledge, New America’s Open Technology Institute, Muslim Advocates, and MediaJustice.
“Facebook and other platforms must adopt structural reforms to improve civil rights and equity,” said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “This is not a partisan issue — these changes are fundamental to protecting the constitutional rights of all people. Prevention of harm, not after-the-fact repair and damage control, must be the goal. To achieve it, those with civil rights expertise must be part of the decision-making processes at these companies.”
“Public Knowledge commends Congresswoman Blunt Rochester and the undersigned members of Congress for clearly articulating the need to continue the work of the Facebook civil rights audit. Clearly there is more work to be done in making sure that platforms comply with their legal obligations to protect the rights of all people as well as acknowledging their role in fighting hate speech and disinformation. We look forward to working with both Congress and Facebook to find solutions to these problems to help Facebook live up to its own stated standards,” said Bertram Lee Jr,. Policy Counsel of Public Knowledge.