Civil rights organizations are outraged after a U.S. Senate report confirmed that Russian operatives used popular social media platforms to suppress African-American votes in the 2016 presidential election.
According to NBC News, Internet Research Agency — a Russian firm — created millions of posts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube meant to galvanize supporters of then-candidate Donald Trump and suppress the votes of African-Americans.
“This newly released data demonstrates how aggressively Russia sought to divide Americans by race, religion and ideology, and how the IRA actively worked to erode trust in our democratic institutions,” Senate Committee on Intelligence chairman Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) told NBC News.
Facebook most to blame
With its 1.49 billion daily active users, Facebook carried the weight of the scrutiny. On Monday, the NAACP announced that it returned a recent donation from Facebook and that it would launch its #LogOutFacebook protest against the social media giant. NAACP is encouraging its supporters to log out of Facebook, and sister site Instagram, for one week beginning Dec. 18.
“Facebook’s engagement with partisan firms, its targeting of political opponents, the spread of misinformation and the utilization of Facebook for propaganda promoting disingenuous portrayals of the African American community is reprehensible,” NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson said in a statement.
NAACP has returned a monetary donation we recently received from Facebook, and we are calling on supporters to log out of Facebook and Instagram on Tuesday, December 18. We implore you, our partners, friends, and supporters to join us. #LogOutFacebook pic.twitter.com/tOBKhnbRTW
— NAACP (@NAACP) December 17, 2018
Muslim Advocates, another national civil rights organization, has demanded significant changes to the company’s practices and leadership. In a letter addressed to founder Mark Zuckberberg — and signed by 31 other civil rights agencies — the group insisted on four changes, including Zuckerberg’s removal as board chair and the addition of board members with expertise in civil rights and privacy. Additionally, the letter called for the public release of Facebook’s civil rights audit by Jan. 31.
Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg published a post on Tuesday saying that correcting its civil rights wrongdoings is one of her top priorities for 2019.
“Facebook is committed to working with leading US civil rights organizations to strengthen and advance civil rights on our service. They’ve raised a number of important concerns, and I’m grateful for their candor and guidance. We know that we need to do more: to listen, look deeper and take action to respect fundamental rights,” she said.
Katrina Louis is managing editor of qcitymetro.com who can always find something to do in Charlotte. She’s an offline hustler (and has the shirt to prove it) but when online, find her on Instagram and Twitter.