By Chris White
Twitter has distanced itself from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) following reports suggesting that the group scams liberal donors out of money. Facebook has not yet revealed whether it plans on ending its partnership with the group.
Twitter appears to be one of the only big tech companies in Silicon Valley to sever ties completely from the SPLC, an Alabama-based group that got slammed in March following reports it takes donors’ money while ignoring racial harassment. Facebook has not responded to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s repeated requests for comment about its affiliation with the SPLC.
“The SPLC is not a member of Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council or a partner the company has worked with recently,” a source within Twitter told TheDCNF on the condition of anonymity. The company listed the SPLC as a “safety partner” working to combat “hateful conduct and harassment,” according to a June 2018 DCNF report.
Twitter also included the Trust and Safety Council, which “provides input on our safety products, policies, and programs,” the company’s policy page noted at the time. Twitter’s page no longer includes SPLC as a member helping to govern certain types of conduct. Facebook’s involvement with the group was apparently more intimate.
The SPLC is on a list of “external experts and organizations” that Facebook works with “to inform our hate speech policies,” Facebook spokeswoman Ruchika Budhraja told TheDCNF in June 2018. The company consults with outside organizations when developing changes to hate speech policies, he said at the time.
Budhraja declined to name all the outside groups working with Facebook, but confirmed the SPLC’s participation. The SPLC accused Facebook in a May 2018 article of not doing enough to censor anti-Muslim hatred. That article did not disclose the SPLC’s working partnership with Facebook.
Amazon granted the SPLC broad policing power over the Amazon Smile charitable program. “We remove organizations that the SPLC deems as ineligible,” an Amazon spokeswoman told TheDCNF in 2018. Amazon grants the SPLC that power “because we don’t want to be biased whatsoever,” she said at the time.
Amazon has not responded to TheDCNF’s repeated requests for comment after SPLC fired co-founder Morris Dees on March 13 over “inappropriate conduct.”
Google was also dinged in 2018 for using the SPLC to assist YouTube in policing content on its platform. The left-wing non-profit group is one of the more than 100 nongovernment organizations (NGOs) and government agencies in YouTube’s “Trusted Flaggers” program, TheDCNF reported in June 2018. Google has also not yet responded to TheDCNF’s requests for information.
The group designated the Family Research Council a “hate group” in 2010 because of its occasional belligerent defense of traditional marriage. Media outlets often rely on the SPLC to craft stories.
CNN, for instance, published the group’s list of 900 hate groups in 2017 under the headline “Here Are All the Hate Groups Active in Your Area,” then was forced to modify the story after conservatives complained that the story effectively conflated conservatives with neo-Nazis. CNN maintains that the SPLC is one of the only groups that monitors hates groups.
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