Wednesday, 18 September, 2019

Facebook says it will fight misinformation during the 2020 Census

Facebook creates civil rights task force as review of policies continues Facebook unveils plan to ban misinformation about 2020 census
Patty Aguilar | 03 July, 2019, 03:54

During the previous term's election, Facebook faced a lot of scrutiny for being used by Russians to influence Donald Trump's win. "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".

Facebook has launched a Civil Rights Task Force whose job is to prevent the spread of misinformation on the platform, in particular about the upcoming census and 2020 elections. However, many civil rights leaders directly involved in discussions with Facebook say the company has only agreed so far to half-steps unlikely to effect substantive change.

Sandberg's blog post was accompanied Sunday by a 26-page update on the civil rights audit, which is being carried out by outside consultant Laura Murphy, who has worked for years as a civil rights advocate.

These policies include the banning of negative ads, such as those that attempt to persuade users not to vote for a particular candidate.

The new policy has not yet been worked out in detail, says Sandberg.

"The civil rights audit was born out of longstanding calls from the civil rights community for Facebook to focus its attention on valid concerns the community had repeatedly raised, and to take concrete steps to address those concerns in meaningful, lasting ways.", explained report.

Two days after the report was released, ProPublica reported on a 9,500-member secret Facebook group for border control agents in which users joked about migrant deaths, discussed throwing burritos at Latino congress members and posted fake pornography of a congressional representative.

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Murphy began leading an audit more than a year ago with support from the noted civil rights law firm Relman, Dane and Colfax. "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".

Some other suggestions listed in the progress report include updating the Facebook "review tools" to "better highlight important context critical to determining whether a post is condemning hate speech and therefore should not be removed" and changing "the order and manner in which hate speech content reviewers analyze content for action". She also acknowledged gaps in the company's ability to censor hate speech and said the company was addressing concerns laid out by auditors by "identifying hate slogans and symbols connected to white nationalism and white separatism to better enforce our policy".

The civil rights audit comes as Facebook wrestles with complaints that it's been used to target minority groups, stir white nationalism and discourage voting.

Facebook will make a searchable database for jobs, loans and credit-card offers available for all U.S. users, the company said in its report.

Facebook also said it's considering other changes to its content review process including letting some of its reviewers specialize in hate speech rather than having to check potentially problematic posts against all of Facebook's content policies. She spoke to more than 90 civil rights organizations and people from Facebook's policy, product and enforcement teams.

The searchable housing ads database will roll out by the end of 2019, Facebook said, and Murphy said she expects the employment and financial service offerings databases to be available within the next year.

Tensions between Facebook and civil rights groups escalated past year after The New York Times reported that public relations firm Definers Public Affairs tried to discredit Facebook's critics by linking them to George Soros, a Jewish billionaire who's been the target of anti-Semitic and far-right conspiracy theories for championing progressive causes.

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