Mark Zuckerberg has agreed to join a virtual meeting Tuesday with civil rights group Color of Change, and civil society organizations Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The groups have criticized Zuckerberg for failing to stop hate speech from spreading on his platform. Amid the nationwide protests against police brutality, advertisers like Coca-Cola have pulled their ads from Facebook as part of the Stop Hate for Profit campaign, which led to millions of lost ad revenue.
Part of the groups’ demands to Zuckerberg is establishing a “permanent civil rights infrastructure” that would install an executive with civil rights expertise to audit Facebook’s policies and products for spotting hate, discrimination, and racial bias. They want Zuckerberg to submit Facebook to third-party evaluations for hate speech and fake news, after which they should post the results on a publicly accessible website. According to the Stop Hate for Profit page, they have lost confidence in Facebook’s promises or claims on their hate speech and radicalization policies. Zuckerberg should also set his employees to delete “public and private groups” on Facebook that distribute misinformation on vaccines and climate change and promote white supremacy, antisemitism, and Holocaust denial.
Zuckerberg had already downplayed the impact of the advertising boycott in an earlier statement. MSN reports that the Information obtained a transcript where the Facebook CEO says that they were not going to adjust their policies to address the boycott’s impact on their revenue, adding that all lost advertisers will go back to them “soon enough.” However, civil rights activists and advertisers sensed that they have exerted enough pressure on Zuckerberg, and his agreement to join the virtual meeting is proof.
Facebook has also stated its initiatives to support the African American community. COO Sheryl Sandberg wrote that Facebook already helps build up the Black community through significant investments, including $100 million poured into Black-owned small businesses, artists, and nonprofit organizations that serve the community. Facebook is also “giving 100,000 scholarships to Black students working toward digital skills certifications,” Sandberg continued.
The company had also begun allowing users to block people and control comments on their posts, following recommendations by civil rights groups. However, MSNBC also reported that there were “few indications” that Facebook was going to announce more drastic policy changes.
Zuckerberg’s reluctance to adopt and institute dramatic policy changes to counter radicalization on their platform has sparked concern. Whether Facebook accepts the groups’ demands after their meeting remains to be seen.