Companies Boycott Facebook, Join Campaign to Censor 'Hate Speech'

Posted: Jun 29, 2020 4:00 PM
Companies Boycott Facebook, Join Campaign to Censor 'Hate Speech'

Source: (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)

Starbucks is the latest in a slew of companies promising to remove their advertisements from Facebook in protest of Zuckerberg’s perceived inaction against hate speech and disinformation. While not officially affiliated with the #StopHateforProfit campaign, Starbucks is also the only company to pull back advertisements from all social media platforms except Youtube. 

“We believe more must be done to create welcoming and inclusive online communities, and we believe both business leaders and policy makers need to come together to affect real change,” the company said in a statement issued Sunday. 

Other firms to assume the #StopHateforProfit campaign include Coca-Cola, The Hershey Company, Unilever, and Verizon. Celebrities Meagan Markle and Prince Harry have also signaled their endorsement.

Civil rights groups, including the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the NAACP, launched the #StopHateforProfit campaign earlier this month, calling out Facebook’s nearly $70 million in advertising revenue and urging companies to boycott Facebook for the month of July.

“Let’s send Facebook a powerful message: Your profits will never be worth promoting hate, bigotry, racism, antisemitism and violence,” the call to action reads. 

The campaign’s website accuses Facebook of permitting posts to circulate that provoked violent reactions to #BlackLivesMatter protests: 

“They named Breitbart News a ‘trusted news source’ and made The Daily Caller a ‘fact checker’ despite both publications having records of working with known white nationalists,” the site claims. Further grievances involve voter suppression and holocaust denial being promulgated on the platform. 

The ADL’s CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt, told The Hill, “That environment, I think, creates the conditions in which this advertising pause has so much appeal.”

In an informal survey of Facebook’s more questionable newsfeeds, ADL analysts found instances of brand advertising next to “hateful and conspiratorial” content, despite assumptions of the brands’ better intentions.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg submitted a town hall letter on the platform last Friday detailing steps the organization intended to take to create more barriers to false or disturbing expressions, particularly those considered unfairly derogative of any particular “race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, caste, sexual orientation, gender identity or immigration status.”

He also announced a new procedure of labeling newsworthy, but potentially harmful, content to the extent that it does not trigger violence or changes in voting behavior. “Even if a politician or government official says it, if we determine that content may lead to violence or deprive people of their right to vote, we will take that content down.”

Facebook received widespread condemnation for allowing a Trump post promising to employ the military to forcibly quell lawlessness that might erupt in the wake of George Floyd demonstrations. 

The #StopHateForProfit organization expressed dissatisfaction with Zuckerberg’s proposed reforms. While an anti-hate policy will now be applied to advertisements, something members of Congress fought for unsuccessfully last year, civil rights groups now want concerted repression of “groups and posts where it [hate] is a far more significant and systemic issue.”

Facebook stocks dipped considerably this morning, but have made a slow upward climb. Many of the companies participating in the boycott also saw declines this morning and have exhibited varying degrees of recovery.