Social media giant Facebook has promised that it will crack down on “misinformation” and “fake news” ahead of the 2020 presidential election cycle.
Axios reports that social media giant Facebook has issued a civil rights report which boasts of the company’s progress and promises to crack down on misinformation ahead of the 2020 presidential election. In a blog post, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg stated that the social media giant will be introducing a new policy which will protect against “misinformation” related to the census. Sandberg also stated that the company would be partnering with “non-partisan groups” to encourage participation in the census.
To protect elections, we have a team … already working to ban ads that discourage people from voting, and we expect to finalize a new policy and its enforcement before the 2019 gubernatorial elections. This is a direct response to the types of ads we saw on Facebook in 2016. It builds on the work we’ve done over the past year to prevent voter suppression and stay ahead of people trying to misuse our products.
Just as civil rights groups helped us better prepare for the 2018 elections, their guidance has been key as we prepare for the 2020 Census and upcoming elections around the world.
Sandberg also promised that Facebook would be creating a “civil rights task force” comprised of senior leaders across key areas of the company. Sandberg stated:
The task force will onboard civil rights expertise to ensure it is effective in addressing areas like content policy, fairness in artificial intelligence, privacy, and elections. For example, we will work with voting rights experts to make sure key members of our election team are trained on trends in voter intimidation and suppression so they can remove this content from Facebook more effectively.
We’re also introducing civil rights training for all senior leaders on the task force and key employees who work in the early stages of developing relevant products and policies. The training is designed to increase awareness of civil rights issues and build civil rights considerations into decisions, products and policies at the company. We know these are the first steps to developing long-term accountability. We plan on making further changes to build a culture that explicitly protects and promotes civil rights on Facebook.
Henry Fernandez, a senior fellow at the left-wing Center for American Progress and member of the Change the Terms coalition which has called for greater accountability of social media firms, commented on Facebook’s recent civil rights audit. Fernandez stated:
We cannot rely on Facebook to tell us whether the changes they are making to address hateful activity on their platform protect their diverse users. In this audit, the company commits to improvements consistent with Change the Terms’ recommendations in some key areas, including moving responsibility for addressing hateful activities to senior management and tackling teams of trolls and bots pushing hate in the election context. But, we still need much broader transparency so independent researchers can look at data and answer whether these changes make a difference.
Read the full Civil Rights audit here.