MENLO PARK, Calif. - When it comes to addressing civil rights concerns, Facebook is falling short. That's the finding of a two-year-long, independent audit commissioned by the company.
It's also the conclusion nonprofit Color of Change reached
after repeated meetings with company executives.
"Which is that it's approach to civil rights is incremental and oftentimes counterproductive. And that ridding the platform of hate becomes a priority only when there is a PR crisis to endure," says Arisha Hatch with Color of Change.
The audit looked at everything from hate speech to voter suppression.
It honed in on several recent posts from President Trump saying a decision to leave them untouched has established a "terrible precedent for others to emulate."
Tech analyst Larry Magid says, "There's no mistaking that if the president posts something, they're going to notice it. But a lot of these white nationalists hang out in private groups and hang out in places that are difficult for Facebook's algorithims to detect. They claim that they're getting better at it. But they still have a long way to go."
The audit called Facebook's approach to civil rights "reactive and piecemeal."
COO Sheryl Sandberg responded saying, "What has become increasingly clear is that we have a long way to go."
The company's plan for action includes hiring more civil rights experts and directing users to a voting information center with acurate information.
"Facebook used to have the motto move fast and break things and the idea was that Facebook was a nimble company. At this point I think Facebook is moving slow and maintaining the status quo. They need to get back to that nimbleness and react more quickly to these situations that are being pointed out to them," says Magid.
Color of Change has been organizing an advertising boycott of Facebook, but simultaneously working with the company. They say now is the time to turn words into action.
"It is incredibly important that we don't allow a company that is this powerful, that holds so much of people's data, to erode democratic norms and civil rights norms that leaders have been fighting for for generations," says Hatch.
Leaders with Color of Change say when it comes to action at Facebook they are hopeful but not naive.
More than 900 companies are currently participating in the advertising boycott.