Facebook will not help build a registry of Muslims should any entity, including the Trump Administration, ask it to do so, the company said Wednesday, after receiving widespread backlash for its attempts to dodge the question.
The social network, which now passes the data of more than 1.7 billion active users across the world, issued a statement to The Intercept saying, "No one has asked us to build a Muslim registry, and of course we would not do so."
The statement comes one day after the company controversially called the possibility of such a database a "straw man" in an email sent to a BuzzFeed reporter erroneously. The idea of such a registry came up one year ago on the campaign trail, when Donald Trump first suggested it as a way to deter terrorist attacks. Following Trump's election last month, The Intercept began reaching out to top tech companies to ask if this is something they would potentially help the Trump Administration build, should it request their services or data. Among nine tech companies asked, only Twitter gave a clear no.
Joining Facebook on Wednesday were Lyft and Medium. The companies told Inc. on Wednesday that they too would not assist in any such effort.
Though it's unclear what data Lyft posses on its users' religions, it's not hard to imagine that ride-hailing companies' data could be used to track which riders frequent mosques and other religious gathering areas. Medium, meanwhile, is a forum where users can share and exchange their ideas through posts published on the service. Many of these writers share their thoughts on Islam and living as a Muslim person, often using pseudonyms.
"Medium would not participate in any efforts whatsoever to create a registry for any ethnic or religious grouping," a Medium spokeswoman said.
This commitment from Lyft and Medium comes after dozens of tech workers issued a pledge this week saying they would never build such a database.
"We are choosing to stand in solidarity with Muslim Americans, immigrants, and all people whose lives and livelihoods are threatened by the incoming administration's proposed data collection policies," the tech workers said in their pledge. "We refuse to build a database of people based on their Constitutionally-protected religious beliefs."
The pledge included signatures from employees at companies like Uber, Google, Slack, Atlassian, and many others. Unfortunately, none of those companies have themselves taken a pledge against building a Muslim registry.
Inc. on Wednesday reached out to Airbnb, Amazon, Atlassian, Box, Cloudflare, Dropbox, eBay, Evernote, Intel, Lyft, Medium, Netflix, Pandora, PayPal, Salesforce, Slack, Snap, SurveyMonkey, Uber, Walker & Company, and Yelp to ask if they would commit against building such databases. Lyft and Medium were the only companies that said no. Most companies did not respond. Yelp and Dropbox declined to comment. Atlassian said it did not have "perspective on this at the moment."
Earlier this month, The Intercept also reached out to Apple, CGI, Google, Booz Allen Hamilton, IBM, Microsoft, and SRA International. Among the companies, Apple, Google, IBM, and SRA International did not originally respond to The Intercept's requests. Booz Allen Hamilton declined to comment. Microsoft, meanwhile, said it was not going to talk about hypotheticals but that it was committed to promoting diversity while continuing to work with the government.