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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 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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