America’s largest civil rights organization called for a boycott of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp on Tuesday to show its anger with a new report that claimed the social media platforms were used to manipulate black voters in 2016.
“NAACP remains concerned about the data breaches and numerous privacy mishaps that the tech giant has encountered in recent years, and is especially critical about those which occurred during the last presidential election campaign,” the NAACP said on its website.
“Facebook’s engagement with partisan firms, its targeting of political opponents, the spread of misinformation and the utilization of Facebook for propaganda promoting disingenuous portrayals of the African-American community is reprehensible,” the statement said.
The statement said that in addition to major scandals such as the incident in which Cambridge Analytica was able to get information on 87 million users, there have been less-publicized incidents that call Facebook’s fairness into question.
The statement referenced a National Fair Housing Alliance lawsuit that claimed “Facebook continues to enable landlords and real estate brokers to bar families with children, women, and others from receiving rental and sales ads for housing. Facebook has created a pre-populated list of demographics, behaviors, and interests that make it possible for housing advertisers to exclude certain home seekers from ever seeing their ads.”
The NAACP said in a Twitter post that it was returning a donation to Facebook.
NAACP has returned a monetary donation we recently received from Facebook, and we are calling on supporters to log out of Facebook and Instagram on Tuesday, December 18. We implore you, our partners, friends, and supporters to join us. #LogOutFacebook pic.twitter.com/tOBKhnbRTW
— NAACP (@NAACP) December 17, 2018
A Senate Intelligence Committee report said that Russians seeking to manipulate black voters used a disinformation campaign to fool black voters, according to The Washington Post.
One expert said misuse of social media has grown beyond control.
‘“It’s no longer a drip, drip, drip,” said Daniel Kreiss, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill‘s school of media and journalism. “It’s no longer these one-off stories. It’s a fire hose. It’s a river that has really exposed the underlying vulnerabilities of democracies in particular to these disinformation and misinformation campaigns.”
In a Tuesday post, Facebook chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, said the company takes the revelation “incredibly seriously, as demonstrated by the investments we’ve made in safety and security. In addition to working to prevent voter suppression, we’re also building on our efforts to encourage voter registration and engagement.”
Facebook also shared an update on a civil rights audit being conducted by Laura Murphy, a former legislative director at the American Civil Liberties Union.
Murphy said “advocates and experts specifically noted the absence of a public-facing policy dedicated to preventing voter suppression and expressed concerns that Facebook’s operations team was ill-prepared to address this challenge in advance of the 2018 midterm elections.”
Facebook’s troubles are likely to grow following a Wednesday report in The New York Times that claimed Facebook compromised the privacy of users in order to strike sweet deals with fellow tech giants.
“Facebook allowed Microsoft’s Bing search engine to see the names of virtually all Facebook users’ friends without consent, the records show, and gave Netflix and Spotify the ability to read Facebook users’ private messages,” The Times reported.
“The social network permitted Amazon to obtain users’ names and contact information through their friends, and it let Yahoo view streams of friends’ posts as recently as this summer, despite public statements that it had stopped that type of sharing years earlier,” the report said.
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