Sep 27, 2019 - Technology

Facebook meets with civil rights groups

Ina Fried
COO Sheryl Sandberg

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. Photo: Richard Bord/Getty Images for Cannes Lions

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg spent Thursday in Atlanta as part of a town hall Facebook held with a number of civil rights groups. Nearly 100 people took part in the 5-hour meeting, which comes ahead of a civil rights audit due before the end of the year.

Why it matters: Facebook has come under fire for a number of actions and policies, including providing a forum for white supremacy and allowing targeted advertising that facilitates discrimination.

What they're saying:

  • Jessica González, co-founder, Change the Terms and VP of Strategy, Free Press: "Only when tech leaders are taken out of their Silicon-Valley bubble to meet with people directly impacted by online hate, can platforms truly begin to understand the public safety crisis that their piecemeal approach to content moderation has on diverse communities. People in our communities are dying at the hands of white supremacy — the stakes are that high."
  • Color Of Change President Rashad Robinson: "No single forum can alter the massive, systemic challenges at Facebook, but Sheryl's commitment to listen and engage on these issues is the first step toward a necessary cultural shift at Facebook."
  • Heidi Beirich, co-founder, Change the Terms and intelligence project director, Southern Poverty Law Center: "Facebook continues to serve as a powerful tool that is used by extremists to spread their hateful messages into the mainstream. While it has taken steps to implement content moderation policies in an attempt to reduce the amount of toxic bigotry on its platform, it has mostly been lip service."
  • Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg (per AP): "We know better than most companies that we have a lot to do in terms of strong actions to restore confidence."

Go deeper: Facebook adds 2 new fact-checking partners

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