Google has published the results of a civil rights audit examining the impact of the company’s policies and services on civil rights. The audit was carried out by law firm WilmerHale, following increasing pressure from advocates to review Google’s policies. The report found that Google, particularly its subsidiary YouTube, should address issues such as hate speech and harassment policies and deadnaming of individuals, and adapt to changing norms regarding protected groups.
The review also recommended that Google should ensure employees with language fluency are more involved in enforcement actions to tackle misinformation related to elections. The report further recommended the development of additional metrics to track the speed and efficiency with which Google removes ads on election-related misinformation, including imposing higher penalties and permanent suspension in the case of repeat offenders.
In response to the audit’s recommendations, Google’s head of civil rights, Chanelle Hardy, stated that the company is committed to constantly improving and strengthening its approaches to civil and human rights. In recent years, big tech firms have faced accusations by human rights groups of not prioritizing rights issues.
Google has previously established a team dedicated to human rights, updated policies related to harassment and hate speech, and increased transparency around government requests for user data. However, the company has faced ongoing criticism from advocates who say that more needs to be done to protect users’ rights.
The audit’s release comes as tech companies face increased scrutiny over their role in shaping public discourse and the spread of misinformation online. Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have been criticized for allowing hate speech and misinformation to flourish on their sites. The COVID-19 pandemic has also highlighted the dangers of misinformation, with false information about the virus and its treatments spreading rapidly online.
It is crucial that companies such as Google take responsibility for the content on their sites and work to address civil rights issues. Technology plays an increasingly important role in our lives, and it is essential to ensure that these tools are used to promote human rights and social justice instead of perpetuating discrimination and inequality.
Google’s release of its civil rights audit and the recommendations made by the audit represent an important step towards addressing civil rights issues on the platform. It is now up to Google to take these recommendations seriously and work to ensure that its policies and services are aligned with the principles of human rights and social justice.