A Cambridge Analytica whistleblower just confirmed they used data collected from Facebook to actively suppress Black votes during the 2016 election.1 Now Facebook has recruited an organization steered by one of Cambridge Analytica’s board members, Rebekah Mercer, and an extreme anti-civil rights, anti-LGBTQ and anti-Muslim ex-Senator, Jon Kyl, to oversee a “conservative bias review.”2
Facebook’s decision to launch this nakedly partisan review into repeatedly debunked myths about anti-conservative bias on their platform at the same time as the long overdue independent civil rights audit falsely equates the everyday hate and violence directed at Black people on Facebook with non-existent political bias. Considering that Cambridge Analytica worked with ex-Trump campaign manager Steve Bannon to “discourage or demobilize” African-Americans from voting it is deeply alarming that Facebook would recruit Rebekah Mercer’s far-right Heritage Foundation to be apart of any process at Facebook.3
These troubling developments call in question Facebook’s commitment to properly carrying out the civil rights audit. The only way for Facebook to secure the integrity of the civil rights audit and cut ties with all Cambridge Analytica leaders is to drop this sham “conservative bias review”.Doing so will allow civil rights auditor Laura Murphy and her team the space they need to investigate Facebook without distracting and false accusation of political bias. The safety and civil rights of Black communities is not a partisan issue.
After over a year of pressure from Color Of Change members and partner organizations, Facebook finally agreed to a civil rights audit.4 That news was dampened when it was simultaneously announced that Facebook would hire the far-right former U.S. Senator Jon Kyl and the Heritage Foundation to conduct a separate partisan investigation into baseless claims of bias against conservative social media personalities.5 Kyl has a long history of opposing civil and LGBTQ rights and the Heritage Foundation has spent years exploiting anti-Black narratives to create discriminatory policy, deny the existence of racial bias, and peddle Islamophobia.6 As long as Facebook looks to engage in political theatre and pander to conservative politicians and media personalities, we cannot trust that they will do the job right.
Black users have found Facebook’s platform to be a hostile environment for years. From silencing Black women when they share their stories about the racism they experience on social media7, to their classified documents that permit their censors to allow hate speech against Black children but not white men8, Facebook has put Black communities at risk through their erasure of Black activists voices and inability to tackle hate speech on its platform.
This decision only further demonstrates how ingrained anti-Blackness is at Facebook and further demonstrates how badly the civil rights audit is needed. The only way for the integrity of the civil rights audit to be secured is for Facebook to drop the “conservative bias” review now!
Until justice is real,
–Brandi, Rashad, Arisha, Jade, Evan, Johnny, Future, Corina, Chad, Mary, Angela, Saréya, Eesha, and the rest of the Color Of Change team
- “Bannon Tried To Use Cambridge Analytica Ads To Suppress Black Vote”, Talking Points Memo, 17 May 2018 https://act.colorofchange.org/go/53183?t=12&akid=12756%2E1174326%2EOX6VD8
- “Facebook’s liberal bias audit will be lead by an anti-Muslim ex-senator”, Vice News, 4 May 2018 https://act.colorofchange.org/go/49724?t=14&akid=12756%2E1174326%2EOX6VD8
- “Whistleblower: Bannon wanted to suppress Black vote”, The Hill, 17 May 2018 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/53184?t=16&akid=12756%2E1174326%2EOX6VD8
- “Exclusive: Facebook commits to civil rights audit, political bias review”, Axios, 2 May 2018 https://act.colorofchange.org/go/46235?t=18&akid=12756%2E1174326%2EOX6VD8
- “Diamond and Silk’s Facebook censorship claim is a hoax”, ThinkProgress, 12 April 2018 https://act.colorofchange.org/go/53185?t=20&akid=12756%2E1174326%2EOX6VD8
- “Facebook’s liberal bias audit will be lead by an anti-Muslim ex-senator”, Vice News, 4 May 2018 https://act.colorofchange.org/go/49724?t=22&akid=12756%2E1174326%2EOX6VD8
- “Facebook’s Complicity in the Silencing of Black Women”, Medium, 2 August 2017 https://act.colorofchange.org/go/30924?t=24&akid=12756%2E1174326%2EOX6VD8
- “Facebook’s Secret Censorship Rules Protect White Men From Hate Speech But Not Black Children,” Propublica, 28 June 2017 https://act.colorofchange.org/go/30929?t=26&akid=12756%2E1174326%2EOX6VD8