Women’s Group: “Facebook’s Plan to Enroll Georgia in ‘Facebook Protect’ Poll Workers Will Save the Lives of Women of Color, Strengthen Our Democracy”

Women’s Group: “Facebook’s Plan to Enroll Georgia in ‘Facebook Protect’ Poll Workers Will Save the Lives of Women of Color, Strengthen Our Democracy”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, December 16, 2020

CONTACT: Anna Zuccaro | anna@unbendablemedia.com

Women’s Group: Facebook’s Plan to Enroll Georgia in ‘Facebook Protect’ Poll Workers Will Save the Lives of Women of Color, Strengthen Our Democracy

UltraViolet Celebrates Facebook’s Policy Change, Says It Is a Step in the Right Direction After Organizing Letter Demanding Facebook Implement Changes

GEORGIA — In what activists are calling a rare moment of accountability for Facebook, the social media giant announced that it would respond to demands to protect Georgia poll workers in the Senate runoff election from threats of violence on their platform, and enroll those poll workers in Facebook Protect.

Yesterday’s announcement, quietly rolled out as part of Facebook’s new policy on ads in Georgia, came after a coalition of more than 60 progressive groups, organized by UltraViolet, sent an open letter to  Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, COO Sheryl Sandberg, and Director of External Affairs Lindsay Elin demanding an emergency action to do something about the escalating threats of violence against election workers.

Facebook told activists that they “communicated this information directly to the state elections office and encouraged them to share the information with the county elections offices. In parallel, we are pulling contact information for every county, and will be reaching out to them directly with the same information about how they can enroll their poll workers in Facebook Protect” and that “…on groups, we are continuing to keep political and social issue groups and new groups out of our recommendations, and we are continuing to require admins and moderators of some political and social groups in the U.S. to approve all posts, if their group has a number of Community Standards violations.”

For months, UltraViolet privately lobbied Facebook to take steps to protect election workers, and specifically election workers who are women or people of color – from harassment and threats of violence. Ultraviolet aggressively lobbied Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, prior to the announcement, running a major television ad campaign in the Bay Area calling on her to “lean in” to protect women and calling its past support for Sandberg, a “mistake.”

In reaction to Facebook’s announcement, Bridget Todd, communications director of UltraViolet, a leading national women’s organization, released the following statement:

“Facebook has historically played a role in disempowering champions of democracy but their late support of Georgia’s poll workers during one of the most politically contested elections of the year is a step in the right direction – one with the potential to save lives.

“Make no mistake – Facebook has a responsibility to protect our democracy and people who administer it, especially when they’ve played a significant role in recruiting those poll workers and radicalized the people threatening them.”

“Many of Georgia’s poll workers are women and women of color facing a plethora of threats this year, including COVID-19, violence from right-wing extremists, and harassment in person, online and over the phone. These are some of the most vulnerable members of society risking their lives to ensure a free and fair democratic process. The least Facebook could do is make sure they didn’t have to fear for their lives and safety while doing their jobs.”

The letter, which was organized by UltraViolet Action and over 60 organizations, argued that:  “majority of election workers are women, and many extremists are focusing their attacks on Black election workers in majority Black districts. These Black women who make our democracy work are facing harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence and Facebook has an opportunity to change that…”

READ THE FULL LETTER HERE: https://weareuv.us/FacebookGA

UltraViolet has dramatically ramped up pressure against Facebook in 2020.

In addition to organizing the Women’s Disinformation Defense Project, designed to counter the spread of racist and sexist disinformation about Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and other women of color running for office, Ultraviolet, which lobbied aggressively for Sheryl Sandberg’s elevation to Facebook’s Board of Directors in 2012, reversed course saying the decision was a mistake arguing that Sandberg’s tenure at Facebook has actually been counterproductive for women in politics and public life.

The women’s rights organization ran an aggressive television ad campaign on MSNBC and CNN in the San Francisco Bay Area, featuring women speaking directly to Sheryl Sandberg about their experiences on the platform and calling her to “lean in” to stop the spread of misogyny on Facebook.