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Civil Rights Groups Call for Ouster of Facebook’s Zuckerberg

The NAACP is among more than 30 civil rights groups calling for the ouster of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg after a Senate report released Monday showed how the social media giant allowed Russia to use its platform to target African Americans in the 2016 election.

In a letter sent jointly Tuesday by the groups, Zuckerberg and Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg were urged to step down from their posts. The groups, which also called for a restructuring of Facebook’s board, expressed their “profound disappointment regarding Facebook’s role in generating bigotry and hatred towards vulnerable communities and civil rights organizations.”

The letter, signed by 32 organizations that also included MoveOn.org, Muslim Advocates and the Southern Poverty Law Center, said it is “abundantly clear” that Facebook’s leadership team “is unable to adequately address the valid concerns of the civil rights community.”

According to the Senate Intelligence Committee report released Monday, a Russia-backed team used an array of tactics to suppress turnout among Democrats through social media outlets, especially Facebook and Instagram, which Facebook bought in 2012. The efforts focused on developing Black audiences and disproportionately recruited unwitting African-American activists who were sometimes paid to stage rallies to create turmoil. Their aim was to help Donald Trump win the White House, according to the report.

In response, the NAACP initiated a “LogOut Facebook” digital protest and called on Congress to conduct additional investigations.

“[This] is about taking real steps to ensure that the social media platforms under the umbrella of this company are not co-opted by bad agents to spread misinformation and further disenfranchise people of color,” said NAACP Chief Derrick Johnson. “We cannot pay lip service to issues that directly impact and affect us. For millions of African Americans and people of color, the results of the 2016 election have been detrimental to our very livelihood.”

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