Facebook hires civil rights vice president – TechCrunch
Facebook hired Roy Austin to become its very first vice president of civil rights and deputy general counsel to create a new civil rights organization within the company, Facebook announced today. Austin is scheduled to begin Jan. 19 and will be based in Washington, DC.
Austin was recently a civil rights attorney at Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis LLP. Prior to that, Austin co-authored a big data and civil rights report and worked with President Barack Obama’s 21st Century Policing Task Force.
“I am delighted to join Facebook at this time when there is a national and global revival around civil rights,” Austin said in a statement.
“Technology plays a role in almost every aspect of our lives, and it is important that it be used to overcome the historical discrimination and hatred that so many underrepresented groups have faced, rather than exacerbating it. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to join a company whose products are used by so many people and impact the civil rights and freedoms of billions of people, to help build a better way forward.
The goals or responsibilities of the civil rights organization within Facebook are unclear, but we contacted Facebook for more information. In the meantime, here’s what Jennifer Newstead, Facebook General Counsel, said on the company’s blog:
I am delighted to welcome Roy to Facebook as Vice President of Civil Rights. Roy has proven throughout his career to be a passionate and principled advocate for civil rights, whether in the courtroom or in the White House. I know he will bring the same wisdom, integrity and dedication to Facebook. It’s hard to imagine anyone better qualified to help us strengthen and advance civil rights on our platform and in our business.
In July, former ACLU director Laura W. Murphy released the results of Facebook’s multi-year survey and civil rights audit. The report highlights some progress, such as Facebook amending its policy on discriminatory housing and employment ads, expanding its voter suppression policies and holding more frequent meetings with civil rights leaders. But listeners still raised a number of concerns, many of which related to the 2020 US election and President Trump.
In light of a pro-Trump mob storming the United States Capitol last week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg blocked Trump of Facebook and Instagram at least until the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.