Facebook is failing disabled people

Young activists in Coventry call out Facebook’s Nick Clegg!

Marking Zero Discrimination Day today (1 March), Coventry Youth Activists (CYA) – a campaign group changing young people’s lives – will host a Facebook Takeover featuring stories and evidence of the harrowing reality of the unsafe online world for those with disabilities.

CYA perform in Coventry city centre
CYA perform in Coventry city centre

This follows months of research into the lived experiences of people and families who have faced discrimination and abuse on Facebook that has not been taken down despite being reported.

Despite Nick Clegg’s claim that over 90 per cent of hate speech is identified and removed by artificial intelligence (AI) before it is reported, Facebook’s process leaves reported comments of abuse targeted at disabled people untouched.

“I’ve had comments saying people like me would be ‘better off dead’ due to not having a contribution to life – this hurts!

“All of these comments were reported and none were taken down, none were classed as ‘breaking community guidelines’.

“These things seem shocking to most but sadly these comments have become normal to us. This needs to change. Being both young and disabled has meant that we at CYA are able to give a voice to those who often have none.” (Coventry Youth Activist, Joey Mander)

Joey Mander, disability rights activist and CYA member
Joey Mander, disability rights activist and CYA member

CYA are responding to Facebook’s failure to protect disabled people from hate and discrimination online. They are calling on Nick Clegg, vice president of global communications at Facebook, inviting him to join them for a conversation where they will outline their recommendations for three key changes to Facebook’s reporting process.

Many are well aware of reports of the hate speech faced by celebrities such as Katie Price and her disabled son Harvey. But today there will finally be a voice given to everyday disabled people experiencing constant abuse online that goes unnoticed.

CYA will also take to Twitter to extend their fun and mischievous invite to Nick Clegg for a virtual biscuit and a chat – where they will seek a pledge and timescale for action for their three recommendations for change.

Three recommendations by CYA for change on Facebook:

  1. Provide accessible and transparent detail on Facebook’s reporting process
  2. Allow appeals when reports are deemed to not violate community standards
  3. Ensure there are people with lived experience of a disability on Facebook’s Oversight Board.
Sophie Greener, community organiser at Grapevine
Sophie Greener, community organiser at Grapevine

Sophie Greener, a community organiser at Grapevine Coventry and Warwickshire, said: “Facebook has proven it can act swiftly on a momentous scale when it suits the platform. For example, restricting access to news to almost an entire continent overnight amidst the Australian Facebook news ban.

“Yet in the case of our activists, who experience hate and death threats for being disabled on a daily basis, it’s incredibly difficult to get Facebook to take action. That can’t be right.”

How can YOU take action today?

Join the campaign by retweeting CYA’s messages to Nick Clegg. Simply go to @CovActivists on Twitter.