Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg 'committed' to protecting users' civil rights

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said on Tuesday the social media giant is committed to protecting the civil rights of its users, following a report that found Russian-backed actors largely targeted black users’ data in hopes of influencing the 2016 presidential election.

“Facebook is committed to working with leading US civil rights organizations to strengthen and advance civil rights on our service,” she said in a statement. “They’ve raised a number of important concerns, and I’m grateful for their candor and guidance. We know that we need to do more: to listen, look deeper and take action to respect fundamental rights.”

The announcement comes the same day as the start of a planned, week-long NAACP boycott of the social media giant. The organization criticized Facebook for not doing enough to protect the data of its African-American users.

Facebook released the findings of a nine-page report led by Laura Murphy, a top civil rights leader, on Tuesday. Murphy highlighted several areas of concern, including voter suppression, accountability infrastructure, advertising targeting and practices, diversity and inclusion and privacy.

“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,” Murphy wrote. “The work that has been done over the last six months is an attempt to capture and consolidate their concerns to produce meaningful results. Given Facebook’s scope and scale, this continues to be a challenge.”

In order to begin addressing some of the issues, Sandberg said Facebook is building its efforts to encourage voter registration and engagement. It’s also partnering with civil rights law firm Relman, Dane & Colfax to help provide legal advice.

“I’m grateful to all of the leaders and advocates who have contributed to the audit this year, and I look forward to continuing this important work with them in the future,” she wrote.