Letter to Tech Companies on Mass Violence and Digital Responsibility

View this letter as a PDF here.

September 17, 2019

Mr. Mark Zuckerberg
Chief Executive Officer
Ms. Sheryl Sandberg
Chief Operating Officer
1 Hacker Way
Menlo Park, CA 94025

Jack Dorsey
Chief Executive Officer
1355 Market Street, Suite 900
San Francisco, CA 94103

Sundar Pichai
Chief Executive Officer
1600 Amphitheatre Pkwy.
Mountain View, CA 94043

Susan Wojcicki
Chief Executive Officer
1000 Cherry Ave.
San Bruno, CA 94066

Dear Mr. Zuckerberg, Ms. Sandberg, Mr. Dorsey, Mr. Pichai, and Ms. Wojcicki:

We write on behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Muslim Advocates, Color of Change, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Together, we urge you to take responsibility for ensuring that your products and business processes protect civil and human rights and do not result in harm or bias against historically marginalized groups. We call on you to address these matters at the upcoming hearing before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee titled “Mass Violence, Extremism, and Digital Responsibility,” and request a meeting in the near future to more thoroughly and directly discuss these issues.

Attacks in the United States in El Paso, Poway, San Diego, Gilroy, and Pittsburgh were all carried out by gunmen citing white nationalist and supremacist beliefs as inspiration. It has been almost six months since the horrific Christchurch massacre, which demonstrated a new level of social media exploitation to inflict fear and spread hate. Each massacre makes clearer that, while each of your companies has taken some steps to address white nationalism and white supremacy online, those steps are not enough. Congress’ acute responsibility to pass common-sense gun safety laws does not excuse corporations from doing all in their power to prevent mass violence.

We urge you to take explicit and immediate steps to adopt, implement, and disclose publicly policies to ensure your products are not used as instruments of mass violence. For each such violent event, your companies should publicly account for your responses to the online components of the attack and evaluate, in a transparent way, how you responded to threats, mobilization, and terrorizing activity by white separatist and white supremacist groups, including: (1) how platforms coordinate with each other when documentation of a white nationalist-motivated attack is posted; (2) how platforms prevent or address the transmission of such content from platform to platform (including your use of the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism); and (3) any disparities between your treatment of white supremacy, white nationalism, white separatism, and other acts of mass violence at home or abroad.

Your companies have a moral responsibility for the impact of your products and services in the world.  For months (and in some cases, years), civil rights groups have called on you to take meaningful actions to reduce online activities that violate your terms of service and that endanger communities of color, religious minorities, and other marginalized communities. While some action has been taken by your companies, more needs to be done. We urge you to focus on previous and long-standing requests, namely:

  • Public follow-through on the requests many civil rights organizations made to you preceding the August 9 summit on violent extremism at the White House.
  • Strong corporate accountability measures, such as publicly identifying a C-Suite level member of the executive team responsible for addressing hate on the platform company-wide, and obtaining expertise both internally and through contracting to address hate, using the best expertise our country has to offer.
  • Civil rights audits and public annual reporting on the effectiveness of anti-hate policies, including the efficacy of any new policies or processes.
  • Screening staff and consultants for association with hate groups, white nationalist groups, and other movements organizing against the rights of vulnerable communities.

We urge you to act with urgency to implement these recommendations and take responsibility for the role your companies play in producing the current conditions in our country. We look forward to hearing from each of your companies about our request for a meeting to discuss these issues in more detail.


The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Color Of Change
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
Muslim Advocates
NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.