More Than 40 Organizations Urge Facebook to Protect Civil Rights

Contact: LaGloria Wheatfall, [email protected], 202.548.7160

WASHINGTON – The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Color Of Change, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Muslim Advocates, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., and 41 civil rights, public interest, labor, faith, and technology organizations are joining together to urge Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg to consider the “protection of civil rights as a fundamental obligation as serious as any other goal of the company.”

The letter follows Zuckerberg’s Georgetown University remarks and recent Facebook policy changes to exempt politicians’ speech from its Community Standards and fact-checking program. The House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday, October 23, entitled “An Examination of Facebook and Its Impact on the Financial Services and Housing Sectors,” where Zuckerberg will be the sole witness.

In the letter, the groups state:

“We write today because our trust in the company is sorely broken. Despite years of dialogue and a partially complete civil rights audit, Facebook continues to act with reckless disregard for civil rights… Thus, despite grand promises on many fronts, we are left with no guarantee that Facebook can prevent any new product or policy from threatening civil and human rights.”

The groups outline structural changes that Facebook must make to address the serious civil rights problems created by the platform. These changes include:

  • Eliminate the ability to discriminate unfairly in targeting for education, insurance, healthcare, and public accommodations advertisements; increase transparency for Facebook’s ad delivery systems so that any discriminatory impacts can be identified and rectified; and preserve the ability for advertisers – especially employers – to engage in affirmative outreach to underrepresented communities, as required by federal law.
  • Publicly name, hire, and staff an office of civil rights that will review and test all new products and policies. The office must be led by a C-Suite level officer responsible for, and with extensive expertise in, civil rights.
  • Install an independent and permanent civil rights ombudsman office that reports directly to the Board of Directors.
  • Diversify the Board of Directors and include candidates with civil rights expertise.
  • Increase the data regularly released as part of Facebook’s transparency report and significantly improve the ability of researchers to study the impact of Facebook’s policies and products.

Read the letter here.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its member organizations, visit