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NAACP, ADL, Sleeping Giants Launch Campaign To Pressure Facebook To Censor Posts
Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer and founder of Facebook Inc., gestures as he speaks during the Munich Security Conference at the Bayerischer Hof hotel in Munich, Germany, on Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020. The Libyan conflict is set to be one of the main themes at the annual security conference that runs Feb. 14 - 16. Photographer: Michaela Handrek-Rehle/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Michaela Handrek-Rehle/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The NAACP and Anti-Defamation League are leading a pressure campaign against Facebook to more strictly censor content on the platform.

The civil rights groups are partnering with a handful of other progressive activist organizations to pressure Facebook to censor user content deemed to be “promoting hate, bigotry, racism, antisemitism and violence.” The progressive ad-targeting group Sleeping Giants, media-advocacy groups Free Press and Common Sense Media, and the civil-rights group Color of Change are all contributing to the effort.

The progressive coalition published a full-page ad in The Los Angeles Times on Wednesday calling on businesses to “stand in solidarity” and boycott Facebook through the month of July. The ad calls on companies to pull advertising off the platform unless Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg agrees to ramp up his censorship of “hateful” content.

“Facebook remains unwilling to take significant steps to remove political propaganda from its platform,” NAACP president and CEO Derrick Johnson said in a statement announcing the pressure campaign. “It is clear that Facebook and its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, are no longer simply negligent, but in fact, complacent in the spread of misinformation, despite the irreversible damage to our democracy. Such actions will upend the integrity of our elections as we head into 2020.”

“We will not stand for this. While we recognize the value that Facebook provides in connecting people of color with one another, we call into question a platform that profits from the suppression of Black votes or Black voices,” Johnson continued.

The campaign follows Zuckerberg’s declaration of his commitment to maintaining a platform that promotes “free expression.”

“Our position is that we should enable as much expression as possible unless it will cause imminent risk of specific harms or dangers spelled out in clear policies,” Zuckerberg said in a Friday Facebook post on President Trump’s “divisive and inflammatory rhetoric.”

“People can agree or disagree on where we should draw the line, but I hope they understand our overall philosophy is that it is better to have this discussion [about state use of force to curb violent riots] out in the open, especially when the stakes are so high,” Zuckerberg said. “I disagree strongly with how the President spoke about this, but I believe people should be able to see this for themselves, because ultimately accountability for those in positions of power can only happen when their speech is scrutinized out in the open.”

The Facebook founder and CEO is now facing strong pressure from inside and outside his company to take a more active role in policing the president’s content, as well as others. Hundreds of employees reportedly revolted in the company over Zuckerberg’s Friday post, refusing to work in order to show solidarity with protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis on Memorial Day. Floyd died after a Minneapolis police officer used his knee to pin Floyd’s neck to the ground for nearly nine minutes.

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