Sep 27, 2019

Facebook meets with civil rights groups

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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Warren-Zuckerberg feud intensifies ahead of 2020

Photos: Getty Images

The battle between Facebook’s chief executive and one of the top 2020 Democratic candidates for president is escalating as the election inches closer.

Our thought bubble: Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Mark Zuckerberg are convenient political targets for one another. Warren can paint Facebook as an example of capitalism gone wild, while Facebook can point to Warren as a misguided regulator who wants to break up its business because she doesn't understand how it works.

Go deeperArrowOct 13, 2019

Zuckerberg's news pitch

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Facebook, which has long resisted both hiring journalists and paying publishers, will do both as part of a new News section being announced today. In an interview with Axios, CEO Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged that "the internet has been very disruptive to the news industry."

The big picture: News organizations have long complained that Facebook and Google benefit by appropriating their content. It's unclear, though, whether Facebook's new move will generate significant revenue for any but the largest publishers.

Go deeperArrowOct 25, 2019

Elizabeth Warren declares open season on Facebook's false ad policy

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

An ad by Sen. Elizabeth Warren's campaign that says Facebook has endorsed President Trump (before admitting the claim is a lie) is having its intended effect: raising tough questions about Facebook's policy of allowing politicians to make any claims they want.

Why it matters: Facebook has spent much of the last 2 years talking about its efforts to protect elections. But while Facebook is cracking down on foreign interference and deliberate voter suppression, it is giving political candidates carte blanche to distort and deceive.

Go deeperArrowOct 14, 2019