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Sheryl Sandberg: Facebook will make changes to combat hate speech

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said the social network is working to become better at “finding and removing hateful content” amid criticism and a widespread ad boycott over the platform’s past policies concerning hate speech. 

In a Facebook post published Tuesday, July 7, Sandberg acknowledged Facebook’s responsibility to combat hate speech. Sandberg said the company plans to meet with civil rights leaders to address these efforts. 

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“We meet in the context of what may be the largest social movement in U.S. history, and our nation’s best and latest chance to act against the racism that has pervaded our country since before our independence,” Sandberg wrote. 

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Sandberg said that she and CEO Mark Zuckerberg would hold a meeting with the Stop Hate for Profit campaign, the Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and the company’s Civil Rights Auditor on Tuesday. 

The meeting follows a one-month Facebook ad boycott which was started last week by a group of activists, including the organizations mentioned above, and has been backed by major brands including Coca-Cola, Starbucks, and Target. The boycott calls for brands to pull their ads from the platform in July over objections to how the social media and advertising giant has handled issues of hate speech, targeted harassment, and misinformation.

Sandberg also announced the final report of Facebook’s independent civil rights audit would be published on Wednesday after a more than two-year review of the company’s policies and practices. 

“[The audit] has helped us learn a lot about what we could do better, and we have put many recommendations from the auditors and the wider civil rights community into practice,” Sandberg added. “While we won’t be making every change they call for, we will put more of their proposals into practice soon.”

The report will be the third civil rights audit Facebook has released, the first occurring in December 2018 and the second in June 2019. While these reports included several changes Facebook is making, critics suggest those changes simply aren’t enough. Leaders from the Center for American Progress suggested the audits don’t do enough to call out deficiencies in removing hate and suggests Facebook needs more transparency on the process.

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