Facebook’s decision not to remove Trump posts ‘deeply troubling’

San Francisco: A highly-anticipated audit of Facebook practices revealed on Wednesday that the company’s decision not to remove controversial posts by President Donald Trump was deeply troubling.

In the auditors’ view, the emphasis Facebook placed on free expression has not been adequately balanced by the critical value of non-discrimination.

“The auditors also strongly disagree with our policy to not fact-check politicians, and believe that the end result means more voice for those in positions of power,” Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer at Facebook said in a statement.

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“The auditors conclude that we must do more to create a diverse and more inclusive culture, which, in turn, will improve the decisions we make about products and policies,” she added.

The report, commissioned by Facebook and put together by a team of civil rights attorneys over a two-year period, raised concerns about “vexing and heartbreaking decisions” made by the social network.

The audit report found that Facebook needs to enhance the team and the processes it has put in place to oversee civil rights issues.

“We must go further on voter suppression and hate. In the auditors’ view, our voter suppression policies have improved significantly, but their application, most notably in relation to President Trump’s recent statements about mail-in-ballots, demonstrates a reading of our policies that is too narrow,” explained Sandberg.

She said that Facebook has a long way to go.

The auditors said that the company’s decision not to remove Trump’s posts is “deeply troubling.”

According to the report, “One post allowed the propagation of hate/violent speech and two facilitated voter suppression. In all three cases Facebook asserted that the posts did not violate its Community Standards.”

“We believe civil rights expertise was not sought and applied to the degree it should have been and the resulting decisions were devastating. Our fear was (and continues to be) that these decisions establish terrible precedent for others to emulate”.

Earlier, the civil right groups leaders were left disappointed after meeting Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg on Tuesday over their concerns related to the spread of hateful content on their platforms.

Sandberg, Zuckerberg and other Facebook executives met online racial justice group Color of Change, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and others who started the #StopHateforProfit campaign in June that has seen over 400 advertisers leaving Facebook in recent days.

Following the conversation, leaders from four of the organisations called the discussion “an unequivocal disappointment”.

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