A number of civil rights groups have called on large companies to pause their ad campaigns on Facebook to put pressure on the social media giant to take more concrete steps towards ending hate speech and the spread of misinformation on its platforms.
On June 17, a coalition of civil rights and advocacy groups including the Anti-Defamation League, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Sleeping Giants, Color of Change, Free Press and Common Sense created the #StopHateForProfit campaign and urged companies to pause advertising on Facebook and its other social media platforms during July.
According to the campaign’s website, the movement is a response to Facebook’s “long history of allowing racist, violent and verifiably false content to run rampant on its platform.”
“The campaign will organize corporate and public pressure to demand Facebook stop generating ad revenue from hateful content, provide more support to people who are targets of racism and hate, and to increase safety for private groups on the platform, among other measures,” the website reads.
In a statement, NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson said Facebook and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg are “no longer simply negligent,” but “complacent in the spread of misinformation, despite the irreversible damage to our democracy.”
Johnson said these actions will “upend the integrity” of the 2020 Presidential election.
“We will not stand for this,” he said. “While we recognize the value that Facebook provides in connecting people of color with one another, we call into question a platform that profits from the suppression of Black votes or Black voices.”
Facebook on Friday announced it would begin flagging all “newsworthy” posts, including those from politicians that break its social media rules.
But, as of Saturday morning, more than 80 companies were listed as participants on the campaign’s website.
Here’s a look at some of the brands that have paused their advertisement campaigns:
On Saturday, Coca-Cola Company announced it would be pausing all paid advertising on social media platforms for 30 days.
“There is no place for racism in the world and there is no place for racism on social media,” a statement from the company’s Chairman and CEO, James Quincey reads.
“We will take this time to reassess our advertising policies to determine whether revisions are needed,” he said. “We also expect greater accountability and transparency from our social media partners.”
Levis Strauss and Co
In a statement released on Friday, Jen Sey, CMO of Levi’s Brand, announced the company would be joining the #StopHateForProfit campaign and would be pausing all paid Facebook and Instagram advertising globally “at least through the end of July.”
“As a company driven by our values, we at Levi Strauss & Co. have a responsibility to speak up and take action when we see major issues arise that impact our employees, fans and community at large,” the statement reads. “It is in this spirit that we are voicing our concern about Facebook’s failure to stop the spread of misinformation and hate speech on its platform.
“We believe this inaction fuels racism and violence and also has the potential to threaten our democracy and the integrity of our elections.”
Sey said when the company chooses to re-engage “will depend on Facebook’s response.”
In a series of tweets last week, outdoor clothing company Patagonia announced it would be joining the campaign, pulling all ads from Facebook and Instagram until the end of July, “pending meaningful action from the social media giant.”
“For too long, Facebook has failed to take sufficient steps to stop the spread of hateful lies and dangerous propaganda on its platform,” Cory Bayers, Patagonia’s head of marketing said. “From secure elections to a global pandemic to racial justice, the stakes are too high to sit back and let the company continue to be complicit in spreading disinformation and fomenting fear and hatred.”
In a statement posted to its website on Friday, multinational consumer goods company Unilever announced it would be pausing its advertisements on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in the U.S.
“The polarized atmosphere places an increased responsibility on brands to build a trusted & safe digital ecoystem,” the statement reads. “Our action starts now until the end of 2020.”
In a tweet, Ben & Jerry’s applauded the announcement from Unilever, saying it was proud its parent company is “standing against hate speech and divisiveness during this polarizing election season.”
— Ben & Jerry's (@benandjerrys) June 26, 2020
What has Facebook said?
On Friday, Facebook Inc announced it will start labelling newsworthy content that violates the social media company’s policies, and label all posts and ads about voting with links to authoritative information, including those from politicians.
“The policies we’re implementing today are designed to address the reality of the challenges our country is facing and how they’re showing up across our community,” Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post.
Facebook is also banning false claims intended to discourage voting, such as stories about federal agents checking legal status at polling places. The company also said it is increasing its enforcement capacity to remove false claims about local polling conditions in the 72 hours before the 2020 Presidential election.
Zuckerberg also said the social network would ban ads that claim people from groups based on race, religion, sexual orientation or immigration status are a threat to physical safety or health.
“There are no exceptions for politicians in any of the policies I’m announcing here today,” Zuckerberg wrote.
But, the StopHateForProfit campaign said those steps do not go far enough, and do not adequately address the hate and disinformation on Facebook Inc’s platforms.
“We have been down this road before with Facebook,” the campaign’s website reads. “They have made apologies in the past. They have taken meager steps after each catastrophe where their platform played a part.”
“But this has to end now.”
The campaign is calling on Facebook to take 10 steps to improve accountability, improve their policies and remove hate from their platforms.
“Facebook is a company of incredible resources,” the website reads. “We hope that they finally understand that society wants them to put more of those resources into doing the hard work of transforming the potential of the largest communication platform in human history into a force for good.”
–With files from Reuters and The Associated Press