Al Sharpton and other prominent black leaders are expected to meet in California next week with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to protest against the social network's decision not to monitor political ads.
"I am deeply concerned that this policy is a means for misinformation that can help to suppress voters and wrong information for voters, and it must be stopped immediately," Sharpton said in a statement released on Thursday.
Sharpton is likely to be accompanied during the meeting by Marc Morial of the National Urban League, NAACP President Derrick Johnson and Kristen Clarke of the Lawyers' Committee on Civil Rights Under the Law.
Facebook said Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO, and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg will organize a dinner with leaders in the civil rights community to hear their immediate perspective and feedback, said Bloomberg.
Pastor Al Sharpton (left) will lead a delegation of African-American civil rights leaders next week during a meeting with CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg (right) in California
The government of the United States and its intelligence services believe that Russia has used social media to spread misinformation and to spread disagreements until the 2016 elections.
According to a report from the American Senate Intelligence Commission, the government-led disinformation campaign placed a & # 39; overwhelming operational focus on race & # 39; and that no group of Americans were targeted … more than African Americans & # 39 ;.
The report claims that Russia was trying to suppress the rise of voters among Democrats by using Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and other platforms to run racial departments hoping to help Donald Trump, according to The New York Times.
Facebook has come under great public pressure to crack down on political advertisements that spread false information.
The social network has made many angry with its policy to accept paid political advertisements from candidates without checking them, even if they contain lies.
Facebook's competitor, Twitter, announced on Wednesday that it would ban all political advertisements.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg testifies before a hearing of the Senate Information Commission on foreign influence operations on Capitol Hill in Washington in September. She is expected to participate in the meeting between Zuckerberg, Sharpton and other civil rights leaders
Zuckerberg doubled his company's policy after the announcement of Twitter and reiterated that "political speech is important" and that Facebook does not want to intervene.
Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites have come under fire due to Russia's use of such platforms to disseminate misinformation and sow political divisions in the US during the 2016 presidential campaign.
That debate has been raised again in recent weeks along with the 2020 race for the White House.
Twitter chose to respond with a ban on all political advertisements, suggesting that social media are so powerful that false or misleading messages pose a risk to democracy.
The timing of the announcement, on the same day as Facebook & # 39; s quarterly figures, seemed to be designed for Zuckerberg.
Some Democratic presidential candidates immediately suggested Facebook to follow Twitter.
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock tweeted: "Good. Your turn, Facebook. & # 39;
And Pete Buttigieg said, "I think other online platforms would do well to accept their responsibility for the truth or to wonder if they should work at all."
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey testifies before the Senate Intelligence Commission on Capitol Hill in Washington in September. He said yesterday that it would stop accepting political ads worldwide on his platform
But Zuckerberg remained steadfast.
"This is complex stuff. Anyone who says the answer is simple has not thought about the nuances and downstream challenges, & said the CEO of Facebook.
"I don't think anyone can say that we are not doing what we believe or that we have not thought hard about these issues."
Regarding refusing to check political advertisements, Facebook has said it wants to offer politicians a level playing field for communication and does not want to intervene when they speak, regardless of what they say.
Banning political ads has its own challenges, starting with defining what politics is.
For example, Greenpeace may not be able to purchase an advertisement that encourages people to support legislation to combat climate change.
But what if an oil company wanted to run an advertisement for its products that also seemed to run into such legislation?
Mark Zuckerberg posted on Facebook after his conference call to emphasize the importance of & # 39; free speech & # 39; to repeat in connection with the upcoming US presidential election next year. He also claimed that the company had removed several foreign interference campaigns from Iran and Russia
Twitter and Facebook are already taking steps to prevent political manipulation by verifying the identity of political advertisers – measures inspired by the furor about Moscow's involvement.
But the verification systems, which rely on both people and automated systems, have not been perfect.
In one case, Facebook has erroneously removed ads for Bush's baked beans because they contain the word "Bush" and the food company was not registered with Facebook as a political advertiser. Media organizations have also seen that their ads were flagged for review when they promoted candidates' news or important issues.
And then there is the question of what to do with individual messages from politicians or other opinion leaders, who can convey political messages and can be widely shared, even though they are not paid advertisements.
Details about Twitter's new policy will not be published until November 15, a week before it comes into effect.
But Twitter is calling for not only campaign ads to be removed, but also ads on issues of legislative importance.
This can be topics such as climate change, arms control and immigration.
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