- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Civil rights groups demanded Facebook explain how its policies enabled Russian-backed groups to post divisive content on the social media platform, saying in a Monday letter that it was the latest instance where Facebook has enabled “pervasive bigotry.”

Among the 19 groups that signed the letter were the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Southern Poverty Law Center, League of United Latin American Citizens, Human Rights Campaign and Muslim Advocates.

“We were alarmed to see your platform being abused to promote bigotry, and especially disappointed that it has taken media exposure and congressional oversight to give a degree of transparency into your practices,” the groups said.

The letter, addressed to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg, detailed how Russian operatives used fake accounts to divide the country and promote animus against certain minority groups. It noted the accounts focused on topics like immigration and Black Lives Matter.

The groups asked Facebook to fully disclose all of the accounts and ads targeting African-American, LGBTQ and Muslim communities; conduct a third-party review of its policies, including a civil rights audit; and meet with civil rights groups to counter bigotry in the future. In addition, Facebook was also asked to create a board committee with the sole responsibility of assessing its efforts to stop using hate groups from using its platform.

Facebook said in a statement, it was “grateful” for the group’s feedback.

“There is no place for hate on Facebook,” said Erin Egan, Facebook’s vice president of U.S. public policy. “This is an ongoing process and we are committed to listening and learning from communities that face attacks based on factors such as race, religion, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation. We are taking action in the form of investments in security and making improvements to our policies and tools.”

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