Facebook Must be Held Accountable

Release Date: 
December 3, 2018

Demos Statement to be Attributed to Demos President K. Sabeel Rahman

NEW YORK, NY – Demos is proud to stand strongly alongside our board member and president of Color of Change Rashad Robinson. Color of Change, a racial justice organization, is leading the campaign to hold Facebook accountable for conducting a smear campaign against the organization and other progressive groups. Facebook’s most-recent attempt to discredit progressive groups and funders with a racist, anti-Semitic campaign was the latest in a long string of deeply troubling behavior from the technology giant.

Facebook’s decision to hire a right-wing consulting firm to plant false stories about Color of Change and others who dared to call out Facebook was a nefarious smokescreen to save themselves from well-deserved criticism about the online platform and its business practices.

Last week, Robinson went to Facebook with four demands:

  1. Fire the lobbyist, Joel Kaplan, who masterminded the online hit job and the firm responsible for carrying out the attack.
  2. Publicly release all of the opposition research documents it compiled on Color of Change and others.
  3. Publicly release data on attempts to suppress voters.
  4. Commit to a timeline for a public release of its civil rights audit, and addressing the issues raised in the audit.

If Facebook meets these conditions, it will be a good-faith step in the right direction. But it is going to take a long-term commitment to right the deep inequities and dangers for people of color and democracy writ large that are baked into Facebook’s ethos.

Facebook’s practices have actively encouraged and enabled the proliferation of dangerous, virulent forms of racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and misinformation, with increasingly deadly and dangerous consequences for our communities and our democracy.

The collective we – Demos, Color of Change, our allies and everyone who values freedom of speech, of information, and of our minds and will – must continue to hold Facebook’s leadership’s feet to the fire to develop a more equitable, inclusive and accountable approach to their platform, and how it operates.

We anxiously await the results of Facebook’s civil rights audit, and Demos will continue to stand proudly with Color of Change and our allies to make sure Facebook addresses what we anticipate will be very real challenges with the platform’s current ethics and practices. Our democracy requires nothing less.

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