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Sheryl Sandberg: Facebook must do better on civil rights

Sheryl Sandberg gestures while testifying
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said Tuesday that the company needed to do better to protect civil rights on its platforms.

Why it matters: Civil rights groups have pushed the social network for years to better tackle harassment. This year — after a consulting firm hired by Facebook tried to link some of its critics to liberal billionaire George Soros — activists were able to get Facebook to agree to update the public on a civil rights audit into its platform.

Details:

  • "We know that we need to do more: to listen, look deeper and take action to respect fundamental rights," Sandberg said in a blog post that accompanied the release of the progress report on the ongoing audit.
  • The report touted Facebook’s efforts to combat voter suppression, reduce the possibility for discrimination in its ad platform and study algorithmic bias.
  • Laura Murphy, the former ACLU staffer hired to do the audit, said in the report that she will "explore various approaches to content moderation as well as measures for addressing censorship and harmful and potentially discriminating content on the platform" in the coming year.
  • She also said she would work to consider a structure to examine the civil rights implications of new Facebook products.

What they're saying: "This report is long on excuses and short on meaningful progress," said the racial justice group Color of Change in a statement. "It is not enough to merely identify the many challenges that we have explained to Facebook."

What's next? Facebook will release another update in 2019, said Murphy.

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