By Corinne Weaver
Facebook released an update of its so-called “civil rights” audit June 30. The results did not bode well for conservatives, as the company committed to work with left-wing groups in every facet of its business.
The audit announced a “Civil Rights Task Force,” led by COO Sheryl Sandberg, which will rely on third-party “civil rights expertise” to make decisions. The task force will address all key departments of the business from content and partnerships to human resources. It will exist to “ensure civil rights concerns raised by outside groups are escalated promptly to decision-makers so that they can be considered and acted on quickly.”
Several of the initiatives announced called for even more censorship than Facebook already has. The audit wanted hate speech to be censored even more, as well as “hateful ideologies.” Humor will be removed as a protected category. Racial appeals will be removed. The policies only go after the issues that liberals care about, while not addressing conservatives’ concerns about freedom of speech.
The 2020 census was flagged as a crucial topic to Facebook. The audit announced that Facebook would “partner with census protection groups to flag for review by Facebook potentially suppressive census-related content they encounter.” It was unclear if that meant any mention of illegal immigration on the census would be removed as “potentially suppressive.” There are two sides to this argument — whether both are now allowed was unclear.
The audit pointed out several issues that the left-wing groups would like addressed. The audit called for even more censorship. One of the problems it listed was “under-enforcement of hate speech policies where hateful content is left on the platform.” The audit complained that only 65 percent of posts removed for hate speech were removed automatically, as opposed to being subject to human review.
The audit demanded a few policy changes that Facebook immediately complied with. One was the “banning the explicit praise, support, or representation of white nationalism and white separatism on Facebook.” But it went far beyond that.
People who are part of a “self-described or identified follower of a hateful ideology” were recommended as members who should be banned. Since people or movements who are are not sufficiently pro-LGBTQ are considered hateful, it is not a stretch to question whether Christianity, Catholicism, and even Islam would be considered hateful ideologies.
The audit called for humor, a protected category, to no longer be protected. Any humor that could be construed as an attack should be removed, according to Murphy.
The audit heavily criticized Facebook’s “Dangerous Individuals and Organizations” policy, which resulted in the complete ban of several controversial figures — Laura Loomer, Alex Jones, Louis Farrakhan, Milo Yiannapoulis, Paul Joseph Watson, and Paul Nehlan. The auditors found the policy “both over-inclusive and under-inclusive.”
Murphy also took issue with the “harassment of users on the platform.” While this is innocuous in its wording, the requested policy change was later clarified in the report. Activists and journalists were the protected group that needed to be shielded from harassment on the platform. “Facebook’s current hate speech and harassment protections have not adequately addressed these kinds of attacks,” according to the report.
When it came to discussing voter suppression and preparation for the 2020 election, the audit called for bans of misrepresentations of how to vote, misrepresentations about voting requirements, misrepresenting how votes are counted, and threats of violence related to voting. However, the report did not address the fact that Microsoft board member and LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, as well as his group, New Knowledge, are still active on Facebook. Both Hoffman and the team behind New Knowledge were involved in an election manipulation scheme during the 2017 Alabama special election where Republican Roy Moore lost to Democrat Doug Jones. They were also involved in the 2018 midterm elections in both Texas and Tennessee.
Another action that was condemned by the audit, “racial appeals,” was referred to vaguely. The audit wanted racial appeals, or using race, religion, and ethnicity to appeal to voters, to be banned. However, groups like the NAACP use racial appeals. Should they be removed?
Facebook also used this report to announce that it has a “full-time dedicated U.S. elections team.” However, no information was given about who was on or running this team for 2020.