'Facebook stands firmly against hate': COO Sheryl Sandberg's full statement on alleged inaction against hate messages

Sandberg says Facebook is having a relook at its policies not for financial reasons or advertiser pressure, but because it is the right thing to do


At a time when social media giant Facebook is drawing flak for its alleged inaction against hate messages propagated on its platform, the company's Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said that she and Facebook's founder Mark Zuckerberg will meet with civil rights activists protesting against the company's policies on hate speech.

Sandberg said: "Mark and I, alongside our team, are meeting with the organizers of the Stop Hate for Profit campaign followed by a meeting with other civil rights leaders who have worked closely with us on our efforts to address civil rights... We meet in the context of what may be the largest social movement in US history, and our nation’s best and latest chance to act against the racism that has pervaded our country since before our independence."

Stop Hate for Profit Campaign is a civil rights movement that asked businesses to pause their advertisement on Facebook and Instagram to pressure these platforms into addressing problems in their content moderation practices. The movement now has a website which criticises Facebook's policies on filtering out hateful content and asks businesses to rally behind it for support. "We know what Facebook did. They allowed incitement to violence against protesters fighting for racial justice in America in the wake of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks and so many others," their website states. They list out businesses like Unilever, Upwork and Volkwagen among those standing behind their movement.

 Facebook stands firmly against hate: COO Sheryl Sandbergs full statement on alleged inaction against hate messages

Sheryl Sandberg, COO Facebook. Reuters

However, Sandberg says Facebook is having a relook at its policies "not for financial reasons or advertiser pressure, but because it is the right thing to do"

Here is the full statement

Facebook stands firmly against hate. Being a platform where everyone can make their voice heard is core to our mission, but that doesn’t mean it’s acceptable for people to spread hate. It’s not. We have clear policies against hate – and we strive constantly to get better and faster at enforcing them. We have made real progress over the years, but this work is never finished and we know what a big responsibility Facebook has to get better at finding and removing hateful content.

Later this morning, Mark and I, alongside our team, are meeting with the organizers of the Stop Hate for Profit campaign followed by a meeting with other civil rights leaders who have worked closely with us on our efforts to address civil rights including Vanita Gupta from the Leadership Conference on Civil Human Rights, Sherrilyn I fill from the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Laura W Murphy, our Civil Rights Auditor. We meet in the context of what may be the largest social movement in US history, and our nation’s best and latest chance to act against the racism that has pervaded our country since before our independence. It’s a big moment for all of us, especially now. Much more than words, people, organizations and companies need to take action – and we at Facebook know what a big responsibility we have.

Tomorrow, the final report of our independent civil rights audit will be published – a two-year review of our policies and practices led by noted civil liberties and civil rights expert Laura W. Murphy and Megan Cacace, partner in the civil rights law firm Relman Colfax, PLLC. We are the first social media company to undertake an audit of this kind. This two-year journey has had a profound effect on our culture and the way we think about our impact on the world. While the audit was planned and most of it carried out long before recent events, its release couldn’t come at a more important time. It has helped us learn a lot about what we could do better, and we have put many recommendations from the auditors and the wider civil rights community into practice. While we won’t be making every change they call for, we will put more of their proposals into practice soon. We will also publish our Diversity and Inclusion report soon after – an update on how we are making our workforce more representative of the global community we serve. This is another area where we have made progress but where there is clearly more to do.

We are making changes – not for financial reasons or advertiser pressure, but because it is the right thing to do. We have worked for years to try to minimize the presence of hate on our platform. That’s why we agreed to undertake the civil rights audit two years ago. Over many years, we’ve spent billions of dollars on teams and technology to find and remove hate – as well as protect the integrity of our platform more generally – and have become a pioneer in using artificial intelligence technology to remove hateful content at scale. We are working hard every day to enforce our policies with ever greater precision and speed.

We are never going to be perfect, but we care about this deeply. We will continue to listen and learn and work in the weeks, months and years ahead.


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