RELEASE: Advocates, Elected Officials Demand Facebook Address Spanish-Language Disinformation Crisis, Release Action Plan and Demands Ahead of Hearings

Washington, D.C. — Today, a coalition of racial justice and internet accountability organizations—the Center for American Progress, Free Press, National Hispanic Media Coalition, and Real Facebook Oversight Board—joined members of Congress to demand action from Facebook on its Spanish-language content moderation gap, a crisis that is pushing extreme disinformation and hate to Spanish-speaking communities in the United States. The coalition called on Facebook to implement four key reforms immediately: “We call on Facebook to publicly identify an executive-level manager to oversee U.S. Spanish-language content moderation policy and enforcement, to publicly explain the translation process of the algorithm and content moderation, and share the training materials used to review whether content violates existing policy.”

The coalition also issued a detailed Spanish-language accountability action plan, launching the #YaBastaFacebook! hashtag campaign and sharing a provocative video to educate policymakers and audiences about the crisis.

“Facebook continues to ignore our concerns and is making one thing perfectly clear: The safety and dignity of the Latinx community is not their priority,” said Brenda Victoria Castillo, president and CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition. “When we say ‘Ya basta, Facebook,’ we’re telling Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook leadership to answer for the lives lost and the hate and harassment endured as a result of their shameful record managing Spanish-language content.”

The organizations cited repeated examples of the Spanish-language misinformation gap, ranging from translation issues—such as failing to account for slang, dialects, and context—to poor fact-checking of Spanish-language news sites and extensive misinformation targeting Latinos. Even after Facebook CEO Zuckerberg promised to address these issues, the presentation noted, they got worse during the Georgia Senate runoff election.

“Zuckerberg must address the issue of Facebook’s U.S. Spanish-language disinformation and hateful activities during the upcoming U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing and publicly identify a C-suite position to oversee U.S. Spanish-language content moderation,” said Jessica Cobian, senior campaign manager for Technology Policy at CAP.

Zuckerberg will testify before the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee on Thursday, March 25. Committee member Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-CA) who spoke on today’s call expects the committee to press this issue. “Unfortunately, some of my colleagues are not committed to making sure that we hold these platforms accountable,” said Rep. Cardenas. “I am confident we’ll have much more success [during the upcoming hearing and in this Congress] than we have had before.”

Speakers noted that Facebook’s acclaimed oversight board lacks the mandate or authority to address these issues and is not chartered in any meaningful way to address the relationship between translation and oversight.

“We demand real accountability from Facebook, not more corporate spin,” said Carmen Scurato, senior policy counsel at Free Press. “We have issued clear demands and a realistic, actionable plan that Facebook must follow. Ya basta, Facebook—this needs to end.”

“There is no excuse for lackluster content moderation in Spanish,” said Jessica J. González, co-CEO of Free Press. “Here in Facebook’s home state of California, more than 1 in 4 residents speak Spanish. For years now, we have put Facebook on notice. But it has decided to profit off hate and lies instead of keeping our communities safe and informed.”

Read the Spanish-language disinformation action plan here.
View the video here.

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