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Color Of Change: Facebook Must Ensure Its First VP of Civil Rights Holds Power to Enact Urgent Change

For Immediate Release: January 12, 2021
Contact: media@colorofchange.org

Color Of Change: Facebook Must Ensure Its First VP of Civil Rights Holds Power to Enact Urgent Change

NATIONWIDE — In response to Facebook’s announcement that the company has hired Roy Austin Jr. as Vice President of Civil Rights and Deputy General Counsel, Color Of Change President Rashad Robinson issued the following statement:

“We welcome Facebook’s decision to hire Roy Austin Jr. as its first Vice President of Civil Rights, which is long overdue, as he will bring deep expertise to a company that has demonstrated a disturbing lack of investment in understanding and tackling key civil rights issues. 

Since 2018, when Color Of Change and our partners successfully engaged Facebook leadership to commit to a comprehensive civil rights audit of the company, we have been demanding Facebook create a civil rights leadership role. While Austin’s hire is an important win for advocates, Facebook must go further to ensure Black people's safety is considered in every program and product overseen by the company by finally creating a permanent civil rights infrastructure. It also remains to be seen if the civil rights leadership role needs to be elevated to the C-suite in order to fully address Facebook's wide range of civil rights issues. This is not the first time Facebook has made a splashy addition to its leadership ranks in response to criticism, but in the past those appointments have been short lived or ultimately irrelevant. That outcome cannot be repeated here. 

Last week’s insurrection on Capitol Hill laid bare the dangerous consequences of inaction on issues of user safety — issues that Color Of Change has been flagging to Facebook and other tech companies for years — and it’s undeniably clear that corporate enablers must be held accountable. This is the beginning of a long road for Facebook to course-correct and finally eliminate the dangerous misinformation, hate and violence fueled on its platform that puts Black people in direct harm.

Facebook’s top leaders must empower Austin to deliver the results our communities need, and they still have much to answer for in terms of how he will oversee and influence decisions across policies and products. Color Of Change looks forward to working with Austin, and we encourage him to immediately investigate Facebook’s internal report on how the company is fueling far-right, white nationalist, and misinformation groups at an alarming rate.”

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About Color Of Change:
Color Of Change is the nation’s largest online racial justice organization. We help people respond effectively to injustice in the world around us. As a national online force, 7 million people have taken action with Color Of Change this year. We move decision-makers in corporations and government to create a more humane and less hostile world for Black people in America. Visit www.colorofchange.org.

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