Our Commitment to Human Rights

By Miranda Sissons, Director of Human Rights

More and more, human rights are exercised — and violated — online. Billions of people enjoy freedom of expression, access to information and the right to education in the digital space. But they can also experience hate speech, bullying and harassment and have their privacy violated in that same space. At Facebook, we’re committed to respecting human rights in our business operations, product development, policies and programming. To further that commitment, today we’re launching a corporate human rights policy, covering all of Facebook Inc, and a fund to support human rights defenders. 

This new policy sets out the human rights standards we will strive to respect as defined in international law including the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). And it sets out how we will apply these standards to our apps and products, policies, programming, and overall approach to our business. We will report our most critical human rights issues, like risks to freedom of expression, to our Board of Directors. And we will release a public report annually on how we’re addressing human rights concerns stemming from our products, policies or business practices — something very few other companies do. This yearly report will build on our existing practice of disclosing human rights impact assessments and detailed responses to recommendations. 

We’ve worked over the years to support human rights defenders who use our platform. Now we’re creating a fund that will give offline assistance to human rights defenders facing critical threats and support new digital security efforts, beginning in Asia later this year. We’ll also build on our existing work to protect defenders’ accounts — efforts that include combating malicious actors who are targeting them, protecting them from incorrect content removals using Cross Check, offering advanced security options, taking steps to thwart unauthorized access to the accounts of defenders who are arrested or detained, and partnering with human rights organizations on outreach and training. 

We’re launching this policy to build on our commitments as part of the Global Network Initiative, and our recent human rights work. That work includes:

  • establishing an independent Oversight Board,
  • publicly sharing our human rights due diligence,
  • changing key content policies, including creating a new policy to remove verified misinformation and unverifiable rumors that may put people at risk for imminent physical harm, as a result of the Sri Lanka Human Rights Impact Assessment,
  • building tools and strategies to tackle harmful content in the countries we have prioritized as most at risk of conflict, including most recently in Myanmar,
  • lawfully disclosing data to the Independent Investigative Mission on Myanmar, and
  • launching important protections for journalists to help them counter harassment and hacking. 

Our goal is for Facebook, as a business and a platform, to be a place for equality, safety, dignity and free speech — the core principles of human rights — and to build systems that respect human rights and guidance of the UNGPs. The struggle for human rights online will continue to face new challenges as authoritarian governments are increasingly seeking to exert control over the internet and use it as a means of repression. No one company will be perfect, but we will do all we can to live up to the commitments we are making today. And we know that we will be judged based on our actions, not our words.

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