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Civil Rights Audit Recommends that Google Should Take Steps to Tackle Misinformation

Khadija Boufous Khadija Boufous
7th March 2023
Civil Rights Audit Recommends that Google Should Take Steps to Tackle Misinformation
The review followed pressure from human rights advocates (Getty)

On Friday, February 3, Google revealed the results of an audit the search engine giant had conducted regarding its policies and services and how these two would affect civil rights. 

According to Reuters, the audit also included recommendations suggesting that the company would soon tackle misinformation and hate speech.

The audit came after a criticism wave targeting the company and pressure by several leading advocates to run such a review.

Before this audit came out, The Washington Post previously mentioned that Google was doing to request an external law firm’s help to carry out a civil rights-related review. Later, sources revealed that WilmerHale company was given this task.

Google Advised to Review Its Policies

The review recommended that Google and YouTube review their hate speech and harassment policies to address issues such as intentional misgendering or deadnaming of individuals and adapt to changing norms regarding protected groups.

Moreover, the review also recommended that the search engine giant tackle misinformation during specific political periods like elections. According to the document, the company should also ensure that employees on board with good language fluency are more involved in conducting actions linked to enforcement actions instead of relying on translation, the Digital Information World website cited.

Google, through this document, was also called to think about additional stats and metrics tackling speed and efficiency to remove ads on election-related misinformation, including imposing higher penalties and permanent suspensions when dealing with repeat offenders. Meanwhile, the company was planning to improve with time and add more efforts to strengthen the approach linked to human rights concerns.

“We are committed to constantly improving, and that includes efforts to strengthen our approaches to civil and human rights. To help guide us, we conducted and released a voluntary civil rights audit of our policies, practices, and products,” Chanelle Hardy, head of civil rights at Google, told Reuters.

Human Right Groups Criticized Google’s Policies

Google often conducts similar audits to provide the company with more insights about their work and gaps and possibilities to improve their products and services in the future, especially as several human rights advocates and groups such as Amnesty International accused tech companies of ignoring human rights issues.

For Amnesty International, Google helps connect the world and provides essential services to billions. However, the company’s surveillance-based business model is inherently incompatible with the right to privacy and threatens a range of other rights, including freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of thought, and the right to equality and non-discrimination.

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Although Google and other tech companies have expressed their willingness to keep their users safe in the digital world, the question remains: how will these companies proceed in terms of actions? And how would they establish transparency through their policies while protecting the user’s privacy and their right to receive accurate information, regardless of nationality, economic level, or political affiliation?

Misbar’s Sources:


Digital Information World