Facebook Accused of Racial Bias by Civil Rights Coalition

Black Lives Matter DemoFacebook has been accused of having ‘racially biased censorship towards people of colour by a coalition of 77 social and racial justice organisations.

In an open letter to the social media giant, the group urges Facebook to change its censorship policies and practices – as it has ‘failed to prevent the spread of violent threats and harassment by white supremacist hate groups’ but continues to censor those of colour. They ask Facebook to do this by making its appeals system more transparent.

Currently, appeals only apply to profiles or pages that have been removed, but not individual posts, photos and videos, and the group wants to change this. Secondly, the group asks for a ‘written explanation and cite which guideline a post or account has violated’. Thirdly, they ask for additional training to be provided to the Community Operations Team and all content reviewers. And, finally, they would like to see a public report that ‘lays out basic data on user censorship’.

“Activists in the Movement for Black Lives have routinely reported the takedown of images discussing racism and during protests, with the justification that it violates Facebook’s Community Standards,” the letter, addressed to Joel Kaplan, Facebook director of global policy, and Mark Zuckerberg, says.

“At the same time, harassment and threats directed at activists based on their race, religion, and sexual orientation is thriving on Facebook. Many of these activists have reported such harassment and threats by users and pages on Facebook only to be told that they don’t violate Facebook’s Community Standards.”