The following is a statement from Farhana Khera, executive director of Muslim Advocates, in response to news that, far from attempting to remove hateful content against racial and religious minorities from its platform, Facebook has actually helped to seed it. After years of attempted conversation with the company, Muslim Advocates, Color of Change, Center for Media Justice and several other organizations successfully spearheaded a campaign demanding Facebook undergo a civil rights audit.
For years, we have attempted to convince Facebook to address longstanding issues with the hate on its platform; little did we know that Facebook was actually seeding it behind the scenes.
The world has now learned what we have feared all along: Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg’s blatant disregard for the lives of racial and religious minorities is not simply an oversight or an accident. Facebook actively participated in generating bigotry on its platform by sanctioning campaigns to use anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry to target those organizations perceived to be critics.
For so long, we thought Facebook was ambivalent in its repeated failures and half-measures to police its platform, which have led to armed protests in front of mosques, anti-Muslim riots in Sri Lanka, widespread hate group organizing in the United States, and countless successful attempts to foment bigotry around the world.
But we were wrong. Facebook wasn’t fumbling, it wasn’t dragging its feet, and it wasn’t ambivalent; it was helping cause the problem.
Zuckerberg’s plea that he didn’t know about this is not an excuse.
Facebook has failed to recognize that people of color and that Muslims and Jews matter. We’re humans who, like it or not, are impacted by its global platform.
Facebook needs major reforms to be redeemable. It needs to add more minorities to its board and it needs to revisit its leadership structure.
Facebook has demonstrated they cannot solve the problem; it is time for Congress to step in.