Facebook has released a progress report on its civil rights audit, which shows it’s made some significant changes like strengthening efforts to fight voter suppression and cracking down on fake accounts seeking to influence political views.
The social network unveiled on Tuesday the results of the first six months of the audit (PDF), which it launched in May in response to demands from civil rights organizations. Laura Murphy, a civil liberties leader and longtime ACLU director, led the audit. After meeting with civil rights leaders and experts, Murphy said in the progress report, Facebook decided to focus the first phase of its audit on preventing voter intimidation and suppression ahead of the US 2018 midterm elections.
The social network acknowledged that implementation took longer than expected but said it was able to make important changes on its platform including strengthening efforts against voter suppression; supporting voter engagement; bringing in voting experts to inform training and policy; adding ways for users to report incorrect voting information; creating channels for state election authorities to report potential voter suppression content; and tackling fake accounts. Facebook also highlighted its ‘war room’ efforts to combat fake election news leading up to the midterms.
‘Facebook is committed to working with leading US civil rights organizations to strengthen and advance civil rights on our service. They’ve raised a number of important concerns, and I’m grateful for their candor and guidance,’ Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, said in a blog post. ‘We know that we need to do more: to listen, look deeper and take action to respect fundamental rights.’
The social media giant plans to continue the audit in 2019, focusing on content moderation and creating a ‘civil rights accountability infrastructure’ to make sure Facebook stays on the right track.
Facebook will release another progress report on the audit next year, Murphy said.