UPDATED 23:19 EDT / JULY 08 2020

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Facebook heavily criticized after civil rights audit

Facebook Inc. today released a 100-page report on its efforts to embrace civil liberties, and the news wasn’t good.

In a blog post, the company said that the audit started about two years ago, adding that no other social media company had ever done the same. Facebook said it had “no idea” that the report would be released at such a pivotal moment, when Facebook is coming under fire for not doing enough to stop discrimination and the flow of hate speech.

“The audit looked at a wide range of civil rights issues, including our policies against hate,” said the company. “There are no quick fixes to these issues — nor should there be. This audit has been a deep analysis of how we can strengthen and advance civil rights at every level of our company — but it is the beginning of the journey, not the end.”

The auditors for the most part took a dim view of Facebook’s efforts to tackle civil rights issues, such a dim view that the auditors said it was “heartbreaking.”

“Unfortunately, in our view Facebook’s approach to civil rights remains too reactive and piecemeal,” said the report. “Many in the civil rights community have become disheartened, frustrated and angry after years of engagement where they implored the company to do more to advance equality and fight discrimination, while also safeguarding free expression.”

As for the fixes, recommendations were aplenty. The report said Facebook first needed civil rights experts working in-house. It also needs to work on preventing voter suppression and hate, the report said.

“Some of the starkest criticism is reserved for our decision not to remove recent posts by President Trump,” Facebook said. “In the auditors’ view, the emphasis we’ve placed on free expression has not been adequately balanced by the critical value of non-discrimination.”

Other issues were not suppressing hate such enough, not cracking down on white nationalism enough, not adequately fighting racism and not dealing with its own algorithm bias.

Photo: stockcatalog/Flickr

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