The Spanish Language Disinformation Coalition (SLDC) defends the fundamental and equitable rights of all to express themselves, access information, and engage in the open exchange of ideas online. Yet the rise of social media influence on public discourse has also brought with it a host of complicating factors that make truly equitable free expression and civic engagement difficult. Disinformation, hateful content, activities, and other forms of information and media manipulation are particularly potent mechanisms to divide society. This coalition was created to protect against those divisive and dangerous threats posed to Spanish-speaking communities. To hold social media platforms accountable, the SLDC has developed principles following the Change the Terms model to guide platforms on how to ensure they meet their own community guidelines to prevent the spreading of disinformation and hateful activities. Balancing the human rights principles and the concerns therein, we oppose the human and/or artificial intelligence (AI) spread, amplification, and opaque monitoring processes through which disinformation and hateful activities thrive on these platforms and set out the following guiding principles as a roadmap for platforms.
In 2020, Facebook announced a series of policy updates and enforcement actions to address militias and election misinformation in 2020. Multiple civil rights, racial justice and internet accountability organizations immediately flagged Spanish-language content that seemingly violated Facebook’s newly-updated content moderation policies.
Violations included election misinformation, from candidate disinformation and polling/voting misinformation, and proliferation of “stop the steal” content. Other disinformation includes COVID vaccine theories and other racially charged content intended to divide the Latinx community against other races. One post in particular–a call to arms in Spanish, depicting several photos of armed white men, women, and militia groups with a caption urging white individuals to stand up and defend their lives, their flag and their country with pride–is still up and visible to Facebook users today.
The organizations organizing this call, along with several partners, sent a series of demands to Facebook in November which have gone unmet. Read the letter here.
Issued by the Center for American Progress, Free Press, National Hispanic Media Coalition and the Real Facebook Oversight Board ~ March 16, 2021
Our organizations have met with Facebook several times, we have flagged content through emails, and we have publicly shared our concerns with Facebook about the rampant spread of U.S. Spanish-language disinformation and hateful activities on the platform. We remain deeply disappointed that concerns are continuously ignored. It is time for Facebook to meaningfully act and commit to protecting its Spanish-speaking users.
We demand Facebook immediately acts on our Spanish-language disinformation action plan:
Additional Issue Areas for Facebook’s Spanish-languge Disinformation Gap
Center for American Progress, Free Press, National Hispanic Media Coalition are founding members of Change the Terms, a set of recommendations and model corporate policies to online companies to adopt in efforts to curb hateful activities on their platforms. Facebook’s efforts to reduce hateful activities and disinformation must be replicated in Spanish and other languages in which Facebook operates. The following issue areas and action steps for Facebook align with our recommendations on matters of enforcement, training, transparency, staff, and governance.
Evaluation and Training
Governance and Authority