Cariza Arnedo learned an early lesson from her family that continues to inform her practice, her profession, and her life today. When her grandparents uprooted their lives in Cuba to flee political persecution, they arrived in the US with a determination to make something great out of their new lives.
“Since the minute I was born, the motto that has been ingrained in me is that ‘difficult doesn’t mean impossible,” says Arnedo, who is currently an associate general counsel for compliance at Meta. “It simply means you have to work harder.”
She put that motto to the test early on when she decided that, sans mentor or guidance, she would attend Georgetown University for her undergraduate studies. The university was located in the nation’s capital, a place close to Arnedo’s heart. Her family had fled Cuba to live a freer life, and in her future law practice, she would find ways to consistently intersect business, government, and the push and pull of that ever-evolving collaboration.
For Arnedo’s father, a focused and driven businessman, his daughter’s choice to pursue law didn’t make a lot of sense. “My dad always had a very straight perspective of making money, getting it done and moving ahead, so my decision to study the law may have seemed a little abstract to him,” she explains. “So, it was a hard choice for me to make on my own. But I just fell in love with the ability to study the fundamental rules that govern societies and countries.”
Arnedo has built out a role that encompasses her favorite parts of her practice since coming to Meta in 2016. As a member of Meta’s political activities compliance team, the attorney acts as a subject matter expert on laws relating to political campaigns, interactions with the government and political entities like political parties, and how corporations and other entities interact with those bodies and candidates.
Under that banner, Arnedo manages Meta’s global elections legal program. “Meta does a lot around protecting the integrity of elections and encouraging people to register to vote,” she explains. “We build products and take measures to help people on the platform stay informed and figure out how to vote in their country.”
During the French elections in April 2022, Meta partnered with several organizations to help develop a chat bot on its WhatsApp instant messaging platform to help users register to vote. Users would simply interact with the chat bot and be led through the registration process quickly and with as few roadblocks as possible. It’s just one of team’s countless efforts to help make voting a little easier, a little faster, and a little more representative of a country’s population.
Arnedo says that while Meta is heavily active in protecting electoral integrity and encouraging civic participation in the US, Meta’s global footprint means cross-functional teams are supporting elections around the world. “I don’t think I ever imagined that I would be working on elections in Ethiopia, in France, in Côte d’Ivoire,” she says.
In her role, Arnedo has seen the global elections legal program invest significant time to combat disinformation spread by bad actors on its platforms. In the French elections, Meta worked with local media agencies to create short videos to help users figure out how to identify hallmarks of misinformation like sensationalist titles, implausible quotes, or questionable content. Other videos were created for platforms like Instagram to help younger users navigate their first-time voting experiences, and to help them avoid scams that might actively encourage citizens to vote on the wrong day or location.
In these efforts, Arnedo says the company’s role is to remain politically impartial and focused on making reliable information available to as many people as possible.
“That’s easy for me, because I so enjoy the civic engagement portion of this that is truly nonpartisan,” she explains. “Meta’s job isn’t to decide which side may have the ‘right’ view. Meta wants to help you, the user on our platform, to go out and exercise your civic right to participate in an election and go vote.”
Arnedo is emphatic about her practice because she says she’s truly found her dream job at the technology company. She has the power to build communities and bring the world closer together. It’s Meta’s mission statement, but it’s been part of Arnedo’s practice all along. It may have been difficult to find that kind of personal and professional alignment, but it wasn’t impossible.
Cariza Arnedo says her leadership is influenced by the valuable mentors she’s found along the way. That’s why she’s so passionate about mentoring at Meta. Both on behalf of Meta’s Latinx@Legal business resource group and the legal team’s judicial internship opportunity program, Arnedo provides mentorship and guidance for underrepresented people who may, like her, not have had mentors to guide them early in their careers.
In college, Arnedo also helped create a conference that ultimately went on to become the NGO Raíces de Esperanza (Roots of Hope), a nonpartisan group dedicated to helping Cuban youth to connect with others and help write their own future.
White & Case LLP:
“Cariza is an exceptional attorney – brilliantly handling complex legal issues of first impression around the world. She strategizes and manages her global matters seamlessly to come up with pragmatic and commercial solutions. It’s been a pleasure partnering with Cariza for so many years – working together to advance Meta’s goals.”
–Aalok Sharma, Partner