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Facebook: An Independent Assessment of Meta’s Human Rights Impact in the Philippines

We’re publishing an independent human rights impact assessment we commissioned on the role of our technologies in the Philippines.  This assessment found that Meta technologies are widely used and have positive human rights impacts in the Philippines, as well as salient human rights risks.   We’re constantly working to evolve our products, policies and processes to…

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  • We’re publishing an independent human rights impact assessment we commissioned on the role of our technologies in the Philippines. 
  • This assessment found that Meta technologies are widely used and have positive human rights impacts in the Philippines, as well as salient human rights risks.  
  • We’re constantly working to evolve our products, policies and processes to address the risks identified in the report and have committed to implement 24 recommendations.

Our technologies offer a critically important space for people to exercise their human rights, where they can express themselves, shine a light on important issues and hold those in power to account. And, we know that people can misuse technology to heighten existing social tensions and suppress people’s fundamental rights. In line with our Corporate Human Rights Policy, we conduct human rights impact assessments to better understand the role our technologies play in society, including how to help prevent and mitigate related risks. 

Today, we’re publishing the findings of the independent human rights impact assessment we commissioned in the Philippines, along with details on how we’ve responded to the recommendations in the assessment. We recognize that complex challenges outlined in the report may continue to evolve, and so will our approach and strategies to build systems that help promote human rights.  

The assessment found that Meta technologies, in addition to being widely used in the Philippines, do play an important and positive role in providing access to economic opportunities, giving voice to people and being essential tools for monitoring and defending human rights during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also highlights salient human rights risks in the Philippines, including concerns about the misuse of our technologies for misinformation and disinformation, online harassment and incitement of violence. We’ve taken concrete steps to mitigate these risks and others identified in the report, and we’ll continue to do so to help keep people safe. 

Article One, a specialized human rights and ethics consulting firm, completed the assessment in accordance with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The research methodology included qualitative interviews with journalists, child protection specialists and civil society activists, as well as a survey of 2,000 people that use Facebook in the Philippines. The assessment also used an innovative methodology of combining traditional methods of stakeholder consultation with a quantitative survey that captured the experiences of a wide range of Filipino citizens. It was also framed to understand the experiences and risks of a variety of vulnerable groups, including LGBTQ+, journalists and others. 

The Meta Response: Article One Recommendations and Our Progress

The Meta Response outlines our response to Article One’s recommendations. We are committing to implement, or have implemented, 24 recommendations; partly implement 7 recommendations; and we’re assessing feasibility of another 9. We’re sharing these insights and actions from our due diligence, aligned with our human rights policy. 

As our response notes, we’ve made progress towards many of the recommendations in the report, and we know there is more to do. Here’s an update on our work to address some of the key areas identified in the report: 

  • Recommendation: Develop a risk mitigation plan for the 2022 Philippine Presidential Election, with a focus on disinformation.
    • In line with our approach to other major global elections, Meta has made it a high priority to invest in risk mitigation and preparation efforts for the 2022 Philippine presidential election.
    • We have a cross-functional working group dedicated to preparing for this election, and have also begun providing resources and training for stakeholders on digital advocacy, community standards, online safety and political advertising.
    • In partnership with the Philippine Commission on Elections and various civic organizations including the Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE), we launched a civic education campaign, conducted training on our Community Standards, and held roundtables with civil society. 
    • We expanded Digital Tayo, our flagship digital literacy program in the Philippines, to include new modules on civic education, focused on community engagement and empowerment in preparation for the elections.
    • We’ve significantly expanded our global policies addressing voter interference. We’re working closely with civil society, electoral authorities and the industry, and will provide further updates on our election efforts in the lead up to next year’s vote.
    • We have taken important steps to expand and refine our policies around misinformation. We launched the Misleading Manipulated Video policy and expanded our Misinformation and Harm policy to remove certain COVID-19 and vaccine related misinformation. Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve removed more than 20 million pieces of content under these policies
    • We supported Internews Philippines to launch the Philippine Fact Checker Incubator, to increase the capacity of local organizations for fact checking. 
    • To help people better understand who’s behind the news they see on Facebook, we also apply labels to media outlets that are determined to be wholly or partially under the editorial control of their government, including those in the Philippines. 
    • We’re constantly working to stop coordinated campaigns that seek to manipulate public debate across our apps. Since 2017, our security teams have identified and removed over 150 covert influence operations, including several in the Philippines, for violating our policy against Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior (CIB). When we identify CIB on Facebook and Instagram, we take action and disclose it publicly in our monthly report.
  • Recommendation: Update our policies and enforcement against online harassment, incitement or coordinated harassment.
  • Recommendations: Increase the capacity to mitigate the prevalence of online sexual exploitation and human trafficking on Meta platforms.
    • In line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, we have actively sought to support outreach, understanding and consultation around the drafting of various online child safety bills in the Philippines and further define the duties of platforms and tech companies in addressing related issues. 
    • We have extensive language prohibiting multiple forms of human exploitation in our existing policies. Our updated policy clearly prohibits all sales of children. 
    • We have updated proactive detection tools with the goal to reduce discoverability of exploitative content and incorporate emerging trends in consultation with the Philippines Department of Health and the National Kidney and Transplant Institute, as well as the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, Blas Ople Policy Center, Department of Foreign Affairs and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.
    • We have ongoing coordination with the Philippines Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking, Department of Justice, Department of ICT and the Department of Education as well as organizations advocating child safety, to quickly respond to reports and gather local insights and trends to help us improve our policies, tools, and resources to better protect children online.
    • We worked closely with NGO partners such as Stop the Traffik to deliver targeted prevention and support ad campaigns in countries such as the Philippines.
  • Recommendations: Develop a standalone human rights defenders’ policy to guide our approach to managing human rights and co-develop technical tools with human rights defenders to protect their rights while using Meta technologies.
    • We released our corporate human rights policy in March 2021, which specifically references the needs and risks of human rights defenders, and provides a strong policy basis for future work.
    • Meta’s human rights team is actively seeking to develop a more consistent set of co-design opportunities on products to support human rights defenders on our apps. 
  • Recommendation: Invest further in language capabilities to allow more accurate, proactive review of potential terrorist content.
    • At the time of writing, we have content moderation capacity in Cebuano and Filipino. We’ll evaluate how to prioritize additional capacity based on our criteria for global language prioritization and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
    • We’ve also launched The Resiliency Initiative, a partnership between Meta and The Asia Foundation, which aims to promote tolerance, strengthen interfaith and inter-ethnic understanding and counter violent extremism, by helping to build resilient communities across APAC. The initiative delivers a range of capacity-building programs for civil society organizations to help develop localized positive narrative campaigns online that aim to counter intolerance and discrimination. In 2020, the program reached over 60 organizations across 10 countries in Asia (Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal and India). In 2021, we launched an online portal  to make the information resources accessible to more communities.

This assessment is an important step forward for us and our work in the Philippines. How we address safety, security and human rights is not static. We’re constantly working to evolve our products, policies and processes to create better outcomes.

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Facebook: Recognizing Global Accessibility Awareness Day

As an avid outdoor enthusiast and firefighter, Carly P. has always loved being active. After a life-changing injury paralyzed her from the waist down, she felt lost. Carly recaptured her passion for being outside and found a community of people like her through the nonprofit organization Catalyst Sports. Now, she uses Catalyst Sports’ Facebook page…

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As an avid outdoor enthusiast and firefighter, Carly P. has always loved being active. After a life-changing injury paralyzed her from the waist down, she felt lost. Carly recaptured her passion for being outside and found a community of people like her through the nonprofit organization Catalyst Sports. Now, she uses Catalyst Sports’ Facebook page to spread awareness and share local recreational opportunities for people with physical disabilities.

In addition to providing community to people with disabilities, we’re also working to make the digital world more accessible. 

We will demonstrate our latest accessibility features today at our annual Accessibility Summit. Join us at 10:00AM PT for this livestream on the Meta Accessibility Facebook Page. In addition to product demos and updates, we will host an interview with Molly Burke, a digital creator and blind advocate.

Through a video series on the Meta Accessibility Facebook Page, we’re highlighting how people with disabilities connect and build communities through our technologies, much like Carly. We’ve created both the captioned and audio described versions of these stories.

Today, we’re recapping advances we’ve made over the past year to make our technologies more inclusive. 

Meta Quest

  • Audio Accessibility
    • Audio balance: This option enables you to adjust the balance of the left and right audio channels for comfort, and to better match your ability to hear in each ear. 
    • Mono Audio enables you to hear the same audio from both the left and right speakers on your headset. 
    • You’ll find both features under the Accessibility tab in your headset’s Settings menu.

Product mock of audio accessibility on Meta Quest

  • Adjust Height  
    • This feature allows you to experience VR from a “standing” vantage point even while reclining or seated. This can improve the VR experience for people who use wheelchairs, have limited mobility or are unable to use the Quest headset while standing. 
    • We first introduced this as an experimental feature (called Raise View) last June and have now made it permanent after receiving positive feedback from the disability community. 
    • You can find this feature in the Accessibility tab in Quest’s Settings menu.

Portal

  • Video relay service (VRS)
    • In December, we began supporting video relay service (VRS) applications on Portal  for people who use American Sign Language (ASL), through a collaboration with ZP Better Together.
    • Through the ZP apps on Portal and human interpreters, people who use American Sign Language can now easily communicate in both English and Spanish. 
    • Portal’s unique AI-powered camera always keeps you in frame and in focus, even when you’re moving, so your face and hands can always be seen.
  • Captions
    • We’ve also added customizable closed captions for streamed content on TV and Touch, as well as added support for live captions into integrated work productivity apps Zoom and Workplace Live.

Instagram

  • Auto-generated captions for Feed videos
    • In March, we introduced auto-generated captions for Feed videos on iOS and Android in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Arabic, Vietnamese, Italian, German, Turkish, Russian, Thai, Tagalog, Urdu, Malay, Hindi and Japanese to start. 
    • More importantly, captions are automatically turned on by default when a creator uploads a video to their Feed. Over 140 million videos were created with auto-generated captions in the last 30 days.
    • Creators retain the ability to turn captions off when they choose and viewers can turn captions on or off using on-screen controls.

Product mock of Instagram auto-generated captions

Stickers on Facebook and Messenger

  • We added alt text descriptions to the more than 10,000 stickers available on Facebook and Messenger, making it possible for people who are blind and visually impaired to understand and use them. 

Avatars

  • Earlier this year, we introduced the ability to have your same avatar across Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and Quest. 
  • There are also new avatar options, including over-the-ear hearing aids and cochlear implants in addition to more face shapes, skin tones, expressions, and stickers. 
  • Wheelchairs are now available as stickers on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger so your avatar can better represent who you are or who you want to be.

Product mock of accessibility features of Avatars

Open Source

  • Lexical is a JavaScript framework built to improve text editing on Facebook, WhatsApp, Messenger and Workplace, with accessibility as a priority. 
  • In April, Lexical was released into open source to allow the rest of the world to benefit from these improvements. 
  • With this new framework, people can express their ideas in text via dictation, and readers can experience character-by-character navigation — a feature previously unavailable in similar editors.

Reality Labs Research

  • We’re exploring how improvements in audio quality can enable more realistic presence and perceptual superpowers in augmented and virtual reality— technological advancements that can also help us hear better in noisy environments. 
  • Our team of hearing scientists is also exploring how to reencode sound and present it through closed captioning.
  • While this is still early research, we are excited to learn more about how emerging audio technologies can improve the lives of people with hearing loss. 

Image showing audio research

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Facebook: Announcing New Products to Make Business Messaging Easier

The way people and businesses communicate is changing. One billion people message with a business each week on WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram Direct — whether it’s DMing brands, browsing product catalogs, asking for support, or interacting with stories. This consumer behavior is accelerating and it’s changing how business gets done. Today at Conversations, our inaugural…

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The way people and businesses communicate is changing. One billion people message with a business each week on WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram Direct — whether it’s DMing brands, browsing product catalogs, asking for support, or interacting with stories. This consumer behavior is accelerating and it’s changing how business gets done. Today at Conversations, our inaugural business messaging event, we discussed how messaging is transforming interactions between people and businesses, and announced new products to make conversations easier.

Introducing Cloud-based API on the WhatsApp Business Platform

Today, Mark Zuckerberg announced we’re opening up the new, cloud-based version of the WhatsApp Business Platform, hosted by Meta, to any business across the world. With this new API, we’re offering free, secure cloud hosting services so businesses and developers can easily access our service within minutes, build directly on top of WhatsApp to customize their experience and increase their response time for their customers. So now, whether a business wants to work with one of our 100+ partners or access our service directly, it will be much faster to get up and running on WhatsApp.

When growing a business, you need smart, robust and easy-to-use conversation tools. For smaller businesses using the WhatsApp Business app, we’re building tools so it’s easier to handle an influx of chats as they grow their customer base. 

Launching Recurring Notifications on Messenger

Today we’re announcing a new way for businesses to keep the conversation going with Recurring Notifications. As businesses acquire new customers and begin to scale operations, there’s incredible opportunity to build loyalty and trust — and we believe this is where the value of messaging really shines. This new capability makes it easy to re-engage people right in the messaging thread and deliver tailored messaging at the best time for customers, whether to hear about special promotions, new product drops or tips and tricks.

You can choose the topics you’d like to let people opt-in to, how often customers can hear from you and shape your content, so your messages are always on-brand and relevant. Recurring notifications will also be available for businesses on Instagram this fall.

We also highlighted our click-to-message ads to help customers immediately start conversations with businesses, our CRM platform Kustomer and Meta Business Suite for higher volumes of messages across Facebook, Messenger and Instagram. Read more about our product investments in business messaging on our Meta for Developers blog.

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Facebook: Introducing New Members of the Oversight Board

Today, Meta welcomes the newest members of the Oversight Board who have just been appointed — Paolo Carozza, Khaled Mansour, and Pamela San Martin. Per the Oversight Board Bylaws, we worked together with the board to identify and select these members over the last few months. Over the next few months we will continue to…

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Today, Meta welcomes the newest members of the Oversight Board who have just been appointed — Paolo Carozza, Khaled Mansour, and Pamela San Martin.

Per the Oversight Board Bylaws, we worked together with the board to identify and select these members over the last few months. Over the next few months we will continue to support and work with the board to select additional members. The new members reflect a wide range of views and experiences, and will bring a variety of perspectives to the board’s existing expertise.

The Oversight Board represents a unique model for social media governance. From its inception, we knew its impact would come not just from its decisions on individual cases, but also from broader recommendations on how we can improve our policies and processes. In the time since they began hearing cases and issuing decisions and recommendations, they’ve been playing a bigger role in setting precedent and direction for our content policies and how we enforce them.  We look forward to welcoming the new board members into this process.

We will update this Newsroom Post as additional members are appointed. We are grateful to all board members for lending their expertise to our content moderation efforts.

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