Report Slams Facebook For 'Vexing And Heartbreaking Decisions' On Free Speech


Facebook has made quote, vexing and heartbreaking decisions about free speech that is, according to an independent audit. And how the social network handles issues such as discrimination, hate speech and election interference. Facebook asked for this investigation two years ago. Today, the investigators are slamming the company and its leaders for some of their decisions for this week's Alltech considered NPR's Shannon Bond joins us and before we get going, I should mention Facebook is a financial supporter of NPR. Hey, Mary, least alright. So investigators slamming decisions by leaders of Facebook. What decisions are we talking about? This is really about speech, and the most prominent example is President Trump. So recently he's put up Facebook posts falsely claiming that voting by mail is rife with fraud, and he made a really inflammatory post about the recent protests against racism. The auditors say Those post clearly violated Facebook's own rules against voters depression inciting violence, But Facebook didn't take the post down. The audit also slammed the company's policy of not fact checking ads by politicians that something Facebook has gotten a lot of criticism over and over all, the audit says, You know these decisions really emblematic of how Facebook has chosen to prioritize free speech above all other values. They say that risk over shadowing games it has made fighting discrimination, for example, that no longer allows advertisers to target housing and job ads based on age, gender or zip code. What is Facebook say in response. Well, the company, as you said, didn't ask for this audit A commissioned it from Laura Murphy of former Sulu executive and a civil rights law firm and chief operating officer. Shelves Cheryl Sandburg said today that Facebook will make some of the changes that it's recommending. Including hiring a senior vice president, who will make sure civil rights concerns informed decisions on products and policies. But when it comes to setting firmer boundaries on political speech, that's something CEO Mark Zuckerberg has resisted. He says Facebook is committed to free expression even when politicians make false claims. And Facebook says it won't adopt every recommendation being made in this report. Now this audit drops as another development plays out all of these brands. I think we're more than 1000 now pausing their advertisements on Facebook in the name of protesting hate speech, or any of them are the organizers of that boycott. Are they speaking up today? Yep, And what I'm hearing is a lot of skepticism about Facebook. Here's Rashad Robinson. He's president of color of Change, one of the groups behind the boycott. The recommendations coming out of the audit are good as the action that Facebook ends up taking otherwise. It is a road math without a vehicle and without the resources to move, and that is not useful for any of us. Another boycott organizer I spoke with today is Jonathan Greenblatt of the Anti Defamation League. He told me he thinks the boycotts just going to keep growing and remember, it's already gone Global until Facebook takes real action on their demands. Yeah, it sounds like we now have this damning audit this big boycott pressure from for many directions on Facebook to change its ways. That's right, and civil rights groups told me they're not going to ease the pressure on Facebook. I spoke to Benita Gupta, She's head of the leadership conference on civil and human rights, and here's what she had to say about the audit. It is a work in progress clearly and pour. In some ways it is. Starts and not a finish for the civil rights community. Gupta and other leaders. I spoke to you know, they say it's just so urgent that Facebook act now because the presidential election is just a few months away. That's something the auditors also say they're really worried about. They say it in the audit. They say a Facebook doesn't get more serious about enforcing its policies, holding politicians to the same standards as other users. That will open the door to more voter suppression even calls for violence on

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