By Micha Green, AFRO Washington, D.C. Editor, [email protected]
Civil Rights activist, crisis management expert and AFRO board member Laura Murphy has come to the rescue of online organizations who need a healthy dose of #BlackGirlMagic to identify, resolve and help avoid issues of discrimination and bias.
Labeled the “Olivia Pope of the Tech World” in jest, according to Black Press USA, Murphy has been the person called on to save organizations in trouble because of prejudice.
When allegations surfaced about Airbnb having serious problems with discrimination and sparked the campaign #AirbnbWhileBlack, the home-sharing site called on Murphy to save them.
First skeptical she was unsure if she could save Airbnb, but wrote on Black Press USA in 2016,
“What initially persuaded me that change is possible at Airbnb was my first conversation with Airbnb’s CEO Brian Chesky. ‘Airbnb will never be able to fulfill its mission without seriously combating discrimination on its platform. We must solve this,’ he said. I knew that only with such determination and commitment from the CEO and others at the highest levels would real institutional change be possible,” Murphy wrote.
Now Facebook is calling on Murphy to save them as well by leading a civil rights audit.
The NAACP condemned Facebook for its data collection breach after it affected 87 million of it users, many of whom are African American.
According to a March New York Times article the “National Fair Housing Alliance and affiliated groups in New York, San Antonio and Miami” sued Facebook in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan because they allege the social media site’s actions are a violation of the Fair Housing Act, which states that it’s illegal to solicit housing ads that indicate preference based on “race, color, gender, religion, handicaps, familial status or national origin.”
The suit alleges that the site exploits its power.
“Facebook’s ability to customize an online audience for advertisements based on its vast trove of user data has made it the biggest advertising agency in the world — the advertising platform of choice for millions of businesses,” the lawsuit states. “But Facebook has abused its enormous power.”
With such allegations and scandals, Murphy is being asked to evaluate how Facebook can improve its anti-discrimination.
Murphy said she wants to use her experience in fixing Airbnb as well as her previous work, like serving as the first woman to lead the 300,000 member American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) office in Washington, D.C., to help Facebook eliminate discrimination.
With Airbnb, Murphy developed an “Open Doors” policy to help guests who report they experienced prejudice.
As a daughter of civil rights leaders and the sister of Billy Murphy, who represented the family of Freddie Gray, when the 25-year-old fell into a coma and died due to a spinal injury while in police custody, the groundbreaking sheroe said saving the day is in her DNA.
“It’s kind of in my DNA to make things right,” Murphy said according to Black Press USA.
According to a Pew Research Center study, more Black adults (70 percent) use Facebook than their White counterparts (67 percent). Further, more Black adults (43 percent) use Instagram, owned by Facebook, than their White counterparts (32 percent).
As a civil rights leader, Murphy sees the global impact of Facebook’s discrimination.
“Facebook has an added responsibility, because of their size and reach, to ensure that the platform isn’t being used to discriminate; that it isn’t fomenting misinformation,” Murphy said. “Given that employers and real estate companies are involved, a key part of the audit will include looking at what the company can do to eliminate discrimination in housing.”