Civil rights organizations criticized Facebook Inc. following a meeting with the company’s top executives Tuesday, claiming the company hasn’t taken seriously demands to better police its service from hate speech and misinformation.
“Facebook approached our meeting today like it was nothing more than a PR exercise,” Jessica González, co-chief executive officer of Free Press, a non-profit media advocacy group, said in a statement following the meeting. “I’m deeply disappointed that Facebook still refuses to hold itself accountable to its users, its advertisers and society at large.”
Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg met with a group of civil rights leaders who have organized a boycott of the company’s advertising products. The executives didn’t “commit to a timeline” to remove disinformation and hate speech, Gonzalez said, but instead “delivered the same old talking points to try to placate us without meeting our demands.”
“The meeting we just left was a disappointment,” said Rashad Robinson, president of Color of Change on a call with reporters following the meeting.
Facebook didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The social-media platform has defended its efforts to fight hate speech and voter suppression in emails and phone calls with advertisers, talking up the company’s automated systems which find and remove these kinds of posts automatically. Facebook has also highlighted a voter registration initiative, through which it hopes to register 4 million voters before the 2020 election.
Members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Anti-Defamation League and Color of Change were offered the meeting with the Facebook executives nearly three weeks after they sparked an advertising boycott of the social media giant that has grown to include hundreds of companies.
The meeting was intended to be a forum to discuss proposed solutions to the groups’ complaints that Facebook doesn’t do enough to fight hate speech and misinformation on its services. The groups are calling on Facebook to add executives with civil rights experience to its top ranks and to fact-check political speech, among other changes.
“Today we saw little and heard just about nothing,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-defamation League, who was in the meeting. “The company is functionally flawed.”
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