Meta’s Racial Identification Data Survey Holds Promise


Contact: Mattie Goldman, [email protected] 

WASHINGTONMaya Wiley, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, released the following statement on Meta’s plan to determine whether its product works fairly across racial lines by surveying its Instagram users to voluntarily provide their race:

“For too long, social media and technology platforms have ignored real civil rights abuses and have failed to adequately protect marginalized communities from harm. The civil rights community has long advocated for technology platforms to protect civil rights, identify and eliminate bias against marginalized groups, advance equal opportunity, and ensure justice in automated decisions. Good data are essential to achieving these goals.

“This voluntary survey is promising and underscores the importance of having an empowered, internal civil rights team that can apply a critical analysis in identifying appropriate steps, including considering the trust and privacy protections necessary to develop meaningful solutions. Done correctly and with proper safeguards, this survey has the potential to allow independent actors to analyze the extent to which Meta is identifying problems.

“How Meta shares information and partners with stakeholders in identifying the problems and working effectively on stopping or preventing discriminatory practices will be the crucial next step. We ask that Meta engage with the civil rights community, particularly if any analysis will result in changes to products, policies, or practices. Given Meta’s troubling history on civil rights, we will be watching closely as the process unfolds.”

In 2014, a coalition of civil rights and media justice groups released “Civil Rights Principles for the Era of Big Data,” calling on the U.S. government and businesses to respect and promote equal opportunity and equal justice in the development and use of data-driven technologies. Those principles were updated in 2020.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 230 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