“You can’t please everybody” is a maxim Facebook knows all too well.
Cases in point: Facebook will undergo a civil rights audit because of charges that it discriminates against minority groups, and it has agreed to a review of its alleged political bias against conservatives.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg heard complaints about those issues during his Congressional testimony last month. While he was in Washington to answer for the Cambridge Analytica data privacy mess, he also got an earful from Republican lawmakers who complained about alleged Facebook bias against them and their constituents. Some Democratic lawmakers questioned Zuckerberg about ads that allowed exclusion of certain ethnic groups, censoring civil rights activists and more.
Now, the social media giant will allow Relman, Dane Colfax, a civil rights law firm based in Washington, D.C., to conduct an audit that will “look at civil rights and Facebook’s impact on underrepresented communities and communities of color,” a company spokeswoman said Wednesday. In addition, Laura Murphy, director of the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office, will take feedback from civil rights groups.
Color of Change, a racial justice advocacy group, said it has been pressuring Facebook about a civil rights audit for more than a year.
“We are hopeful that Facebook is finally taking seriously the concerns that we and our partners at Muslim Advocates, Center for Media Justice and others, have repeatedly brought to their door,” Rashad Robinson, executive director of Color of Change, said in a statement by the group Wednesday.
Facebook will also work with former Arizona Republican Sen. Jon Kyl on the charges about bias against conservatives. Kyl’s Washington law firm, Covington Burling, has a high-profile partner on its staff: Eric Holder, former U.S. attorney general, though it’s unclear whether he’ll be involved. Lest that triggers further concerns about bias, the effort will also include company meetings with the Heritage Foundation, a leading conservative think tank.
“Getting outside feedback will help us improve over time — ensuring that we can more effectively serve the people on Facebook,” said Joel Kaplan, vice president of global policy at Facebook, said in a statement Wednesday.