COO Sheryl Sandberg admits Facebook needs to 'do more' to protect civil rights

Sheryl SandbergGetty

  • Civil rights groups are calling for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg to resign from the company's board.
  • The calls come after a new report detailed how Russian operatives used Instagram for a voter-suppression campaign targeting African-Americans.
  • Sandberg conceded that Facebook "need[s] to do more" in a statement, but did not address the calls for her to quit Facebook's board of directors.

Facing calls to resign from Facebook's board of directors, chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg has conceded that the social network "need[s] to do more" to protect civil rights.

This week, a coalition of civil rights group called on Sandberg and CEO Mark Zuckerberg to quit their posts on the company's board of directors, diversify the company's board, fire policy chief Joel Kaplan, and make a number of other changes. The groups include NAACP, Southern Poverty Law Centre, MoveOn, Freedom From Facebook, and others.

The NAACP is also calling on users to boycott Facebook on December 18, and has returned a donation from the social networking company, it said.

The calls come after a report revealed how Russian operatives utilized Facebook-owned Instagram to target African-Americans in a voter-suppression campaign during the 2016 presidential election, part of a broader covert social media campaign to influence American politics and elect Donald Trump.

On a statement posted to her Facebook page on Tuesday, Sandberg did not directly reference the calls for her to leave the board, but acknowledged: "We know we need to do more."

Regarding the voter suppression findings, Facebook's No.2 exec wrote that "we take this incredibly seriously, as demonstrated by the investments we've made in safety and security." Facebook is trying to encourage "voter registration and engagement," she added.

Sandberg also shared an update on the ongoing civil rights audit of Facebook being conducted by former ACLU director Laura Murphy.

"For the past several years, civil rights groups have consistently expressed, both publicly and privately, their deeply held concerns about Facebook's products, policies, and practices and their implications on civil and human rights. The work that has been done over the last six months is an attempt to capture and consolidate their concerns to produce meaningful results," Murphy wrote.

"Given Facebook's scope and scale, this continues to be a challenge. That being said, in the first six months of this audit, we have witnessed some progress and tangible results, including policy changes, improvements to enforcement, and greater transparency in certain areas."

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