UnidosUS severs ties with Facebook

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The country’s largest Latino civil rights organization on Friday severed its ties with Facebook, returning a recent grant from the social media giant.

UnidosUS, formerly known as the National Council of La Raza, said in a statement its decision came “amid revelations on the role that the platform has played in intentionally perpetuating products and policies that harm the Latino community and undermine democratic ideals.”

“This week’s revelations from Facebook’s own internal documents confirmed what we have long suspected: Facebook has engaged with us and the civil rights community in bad faith,” said UnidosUS President and CEO Janet Murguía.

“We have called attention repeatedly to concerns about the negative impact that the proliferation of hate and misinformation on the platform has had on the Latino community. We know now that Facebook’s failure to adequately address those concerns was deliberate and resulted in even greater levels of hate and misinformation on the site,” she added.

In a statement provided to The Hill, Facebook say that it respects UnidoUS’s decision. 

“We respect UnidosUS’s decision and have appreciated their insights over the years. We remain committed to engaging with experts and civil society groups, who help inform our approach as we shape our policies and products, leaning on the expertise of our new Civil Rights Team,” a Facebook spokesperson said.
“These recent assertions do not tell the full story of our work, like our investment of more than $13 billion to keep people safe or the team of 40,000 people we’ve built to work on these important issues. We’ll continue to move these efforts forward and hope to do so in partnership with leading groups.”

Facebook has faced an avalanche of negative press over the last few weeks, starting with a series of articles in The Wall Street Journal sharing internal company research that found the platform worsening body issues for teen girls, failing to handle drug cartels and providing preferential treatment to high profile users.

Their problems compounded when the source of that research, Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, appeared in a high profile interview on “60 Minutes” and then testified before Congress.

Lawmakers came out of that hearing fired up, although the path to legislation restricting Facebook’s power is unclear.

Notably, the internal research leaked to the Journal included evidence that Facebook underfunded content moderation in languages that aren’t English.

Advocacy groups have called out the platform for allowing Spanish language misinformation about everything from the 2020 election to the coronavirus pandemic to spread on its services, including the messages system WhatsApp.

“Our experience over the past few years has shown that it’s not possible for Facebook to hold itself accountable. Going forward, we will be supporting both regulatory and legislative efforts to provide public oversight to ensure long-overdue and much-needed transparency and accountability of social media platforms, starting with Facebook,” said Murguía.

Updated 8:01 p.m.

Tags Disinformation Facebook Frances Haugen Janet Murguía misinformation National Council of La Raza Social media The Wall Street Journal UnidosUS
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