By Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer
Civil rights are core to American values of equality, dignity and freedom from discrimination. Advancing civil rights benefits all of us and is what we stand for as a people.
In May, we accepted the call to undertake a civil rights audit. We asked Laura Murphy, a highly respected civil rights and civil liberties leader, to guide the audit. After speaking with more than 90 civil rights organizations, today Laura is providing an important update on our progress.
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. We know that we need to do more: to listen, look deeper and take action to respect fundamental rights.
In these first six months, Laura’s work helped us build upon crucial election-related efforts such as expanding our policy prohibiting voter suppression. We updated our policy to expressly ban misrepresentations about how to vote, such as claims that you can vote using an online app, and statements about whether a vote will be counted. Other misinformation related to voting – including false claims of polling place closures, long lines, and wait times – is proactively sent to third-party fact-checkers for review. The revised policy also prohibits threats of violence related to voting or voter registration. As a direct response to feedback from civil rights advocates, we are focusing on voter suppression as a distinct civil rights challenge and will continue this work to be better prepared for future elections.
Two independent reports commissioned by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released Monday on the Russian Internet Research Agency’s use of technology around the 2016 election suggest that the IRA’s efforts had a disproportionate impact on communities of color. We take this incredibly seriously, as demonstrated by the investments we’ve made in safety and security.
In addition to working to prevent voter suppression, we’re also building on our efforts to encourage voter registration and engagement. When people turn 18, and ahead of elections, we remind them to register to vote. We help them find their polling places and remind them to vote on Election Day. This year, we also added a feature that lets people ask their friends to join them in registering to vote. As a result of these efforts, Facebook and Instagram helped register an estimated 2 million people in 2018, according to our nonpartisan partner TurboVote.
We know we need to do more. Laura’s report includes areas where we can and should do better – and we’re working hard to address these concerns. We also announced when this process began that we’re engaging with the noted civil rights law firm Relman, Dane and Colfax, to provide legal analysis and advice. We will include information about their ongoing work in future updates.
The civil rights audit is deeply important to me, and it’s one of my top priorities for 2019. I’m committed to overseeing its progress and making sure that it is a well-resourced, cross-company effort. I’m grateful to all of the leaders and advocates who have contributed to the audit this year, and I look forward to continuing this important work with them in the future.
You can find a copy of the update here.