Facebook has created a new civil rights executive position, filled by a former Obama administration expert, Roy Austin Jr.
Groups like the NAACP and Anti-Defamation League, backed by concerned advertisers, pressured Facebook to create the civil rights leadership position after they felt their issues were being ignored by the company’s executives, which helped lead to a Facebook ad boycott in July.
On Monday, Facebook announced the appointment of Austin. Facebook had promised to carve out this civil rights role in its executive ranks in order to bring a new voice into the company that could better understand the concerns of People of Color and other marginalized communities.
“In addition to hiring Roy Austin as our Civil Rights VP, we are also working to bring more civil rights expertise in-house so that we can embed this expertise on core teams,” Facebook said in its statement on Monday. “We are in the process of developing civil rights training for employees in the early stages of policy and product development, in partnership with civil rights law firm, Relman Colfax.”
NAACP was not immediately available for comment on Facebook’s civil rights steps. The new role comes at an urgent moment, with the nation dealing with the fallout from an insurrection in Congress last week, an action that was partly instigated by hateful rhetoric on social media. The riots led to at least five deaths in Washington, D.C. and terrorized members of Congress, with many of the instigators having been active on social media. President Donald Trump was considered to be one of those instigators through tweets and Facebook posts.