More than 70 civil rights groups have penned an open letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg demanding that the firm becomes more transparent about content removal.
The groups, which include the American Civil Liberties Union, the Centre for Media Justice and SumOfUs, allege that Facebook has repeatedly removed posts documenting human rights violations.
It is concerned in particular with the social network's removal of content that depicts police violence at the request of authorities, and the disabling of Palestinian journalists' accounts following Zuckerberg's meeting with the Israeli prime minister.
"It is critical that Facebook be a platform that supports the protection of human rights above all else and does not discriminately apply its policies on the basis of race, creed, national origin, gender and/or sexual orientation," the letter reads.
"When the most vulnerable members of society turn to your platform to document and share experiences of injustice, Facebook is morally obligated to protect that speech."
The groups have specifically urged Zuckerberg to make policies about how Facebook decides to censor content clear and accessible to the public; create a public appeals platform; undergo an external audit on the equity and human rights outcomes of its content censorship and data sharing policies; and refuse to disclose customer content and data to third-party agencies unless required to by law.
"Since Facebook strives to be an all-encompassing platform that lifts up everyday narratives from everyday people across the globe, we believe that taking urgent action to increase transparency and protect users is the first step to reaching our shared vision of the world," the letter continued.
"It is important not only for the integrity of its platform and the trust of its community of users, but for the future of our media, because the stories that don’t get shared are as important as the ones that do."
The letter, to which Facebook has yet to respond, comes a week after the social network announced that it will allow newsworthy content on its platform even if it might otherwise violate the company’s community standards.
The change of heart followed a lengthy dispute concerning a celebrated Vietnam war photo over claims that it violated Facebook's child nudity policy.
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