Facebook joins Web freedom group

Agence France-Presse

Posted at May 23 2013 02:40 AM | Updated as of May 23 2013 10:40 AM

WASHINGTON - Facebook on Wednesday became a full member of the Global Network Initiative, a non-governmental organization promoting Internet freedom and privacy rights.

The announcement came one year after the world's biggest social network gained observer status at GNI, whose corporate members include Microsoft, Yahoo! and Google.

"We welcome Facebook as a full member of GNI and look forward to working more closely with them to advance the freedom of expression and privacy rights of Internet users worldwide," said the group's executive director Susan Morgan.

"Adding the power of Facebook's community of one billion global users puts GNI in an even better place to press governments to fulfill their obligations to protect rights online."

Facebook Vice President Elliot Schrage said the California company joined the group as part of its commitment to "advancing human rights, including freedom of expression and the right to communicate freely."

"We're pleased to join GNI and contribute to its efforts to shed a spotlight on government practices that threaten the economic, social and political benefits the Internet provides."

The news was welcomed by Human Rights Watch, which is also a member of the initiative.

"Facebook has an undeniable responsibility to safeguard human rights for the more than billion people who use it," said Arvind Ganesan, business and human rights director at Human Rights Watch.

"By joining the Global Network Initiative, Facebook is taking an important step to respect its users' human rights and to be accountable to them. The real test is to see how it implements GNI's principles."

Other GNI members include the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Committee to Protect Journalists and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.