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Facebook civil rights audit says white supremacy policy is ‘too narrow’

Facebook’s second progress report pertaining to the civil rights audit conducted by former ACLU Washington Director Laura Murphy is here. Over the last six months, Facebook has made changes around enforcing against hate, fighting discrimination in ads and protecting against misinformation and suppression in the upcoming U.S. presidential election and 2020 Census, according to the progress report.While Facebook has made changes in some of these areas — Facebook banned white supremacy in March — auditors say Facebook’s policy is still “too narrow.” That’s because it solely prohibits explicit praise, support or representation of the terms “white nationalism” or “white separatism,” but does not technically prohibit references to those terms and ideologies.“The narrow scope of the policy leaves up content that expressly espouses white nationalist ideology without using the term ‘white nationalist,'” the report states. “As a result, content that would cause the same harm is permitted to remain on the platform.”Therefore, the audit team recommends Facebook expand its policy to prohibit content that “expressly praises, supports, or represents white nationalist ideology” even if the content does not explicitly use the terms “white nationalism” or “white separatism.”In Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s note today, she acknowledges the recommendation.“We’re addressing this by identifying hate slogans and symbols connected to white nationalism and white separatism to better enforce our policy,” she wrote.Sandberg also noted how Facebook recently updated its policies to ensure people don’t use Facebook to organize events intended to intimidate or harass people.“Getting our policies right is just one part of the solution,” Sandberg said. “We also need to get better at enforcement — both in taking down and leaving up the right content.”Sandberg is referring to the fact that Facebook has sometimes wrongfully taken down content meant to draw attention to racism and discrimination.As Murphy noted in her report, “the definition and policing of hate speech and harassment on the platform has long been an area of concern. The civil rights community also claims that a lack of civil rights expertise informing content decisions leads to vastly different outcomes for users from marginalized communities.”Facebook now says it’s taking steps to address this. One step, Sandberg says, is to have some content reviewers focus just on hate speech.“We believe allowing reviewers to specialize only in hate speech could help them further build the expertise that may lead to increased accuracy over time,” Sandberg wrote.Additionally, Sandber ...Read more

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