Leading Black LGBTQ+ Group Urges Congress to Account for Racial Divide in Tech Before Disinformation Hearing With Silicon Valley CEOs
National Black Justice Coalition Warns Marginalized Communities Could Be Negatively Impacted by Potential Changes to Content Moderation
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WASHINGTON, DC — Tomorrow, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will face questioning from the House Energy and Commerce committee over the companies’ role in the proliferation of misinformation online.
Ahead of the hearings, the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) sent a letter to the Committee chairs, ranking members, and members of the Congressional Black Caucus, urging them to consider the impact of potential changes to Section 230, which could harm outreach for social justice organizations like the National Black Justice Coalition. The letter has also been shared with Google, Twitter, and Facebook.
In the letter, David J. Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, describes the dispersal of disinformation as, “efforts designed to prevent poor, stigmatized, and minoritized individuals and communities from voting; suppress the efforts of civil rights and social justice organizers, and affirm anti-democratic and white supremacist propaganda.” Johns warns that social justice organizations engaged in life-affirming and life-saving advocacy work could be severely harmed if they are stripped of the ability to share messages and engage in actions threatened by discussions on content moderation.
The letter points to how NBJC’s advocacy efforts around HIV/AIDS were flagged for review by at least two platforms testifying before Congress due to potential changes to Section 230.
The National Black Justice Coalition proposes five key questions for the Senate subcommittees and House Energy and Commerce Committee to consider in their efforts to stop the spread of misinformation and disinformation, including:
- Under the last presidential administration, we saw evidence of civil rights and social justice activists become targets of federal and local law enforcement agencies. We also saw that when elected “leaders” sent dog whistles to white supremacist groups the personal and physical safety of civil rights and social justice activists were threatened, sometimes by groups that organized online. What is being done, at present, to ensure the safety of civil rights and social justice activists?
- How are you currently protecting against bias that results from the existence of and collusion of anti-Blackness, white supremacy, and homophobia across the digital platforms that you provide?
- Tell us more about what recent and current action is being taken to ensure that social justice, civil rights, and non-profit organizations are not being negatively impacted by efforts to moderate content in ways that ensure everyone has safe access to the digital platforms you provide?
- What steps have been taken to ensure that there is diversity among the teams responsible for developing and operating systems that develop content moderation algorithms and systems as well as to ensure ethical development and use of technology more generally?
- What steps are the platforms taking to proactively promote and support content developed by and for stigmatized minoritized communities generally and BIPOC LGBTQ+ communities specifically?