Bengaluru, NFAPost: Facebook has recently drawn severe corporate backlash after several activist organizations began #StopHateforProfit campaign opposing the company’s perceived policy failings with a highly-disappointing outlook.
The search engine giant has drawn a lot of flak in the wake of mainstream corporations joining the boycott by withdrawing their investments in Facebook advertising indefinitely. The move was the result of their disappointment over the recent meeting with Mark Zuckrberg, Sheryl Sandberg and the returning Chief Product Officer Chris Cox, which lasted a bit over an hour.
Expressing their unequivocal disappointment over their recent discussion with Facebook’s top leadership echelon, Anti-defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt had this to say: “Today we saw little and heard just about nothing.”
Greenblatt further expressed concerns over Facebook failing to apply “energy and urgency” to issues like hate and misinformation that have spiraled into a massive backlash from the corporate world and an outcry from the public at large.
Color of Change President Rashad Robinson has criticized Facebook for conducting a namesake meeting and “expecting an A for attendance” for the participation.
Free Press co-CEO Jessica J. González also expressed her reservations about the company’s reckless attitude towards curbing the menace of hate speech and racial abuse on the platform. NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson dismissed the company’s efforts as well, accusing Facebook of being “more interested in dialogue than action.”
The #StopHateforProfit campaign calls for companies to terminate their advertising on Facebook and Instagram for the month of July, citing recent irresponsible policy choices by the company, including the decision not to take down a post by President Trump threatening racial justice for protesters with violence.
The initiative is a brainchild of civil rights groups and other organizations, including the ADL, Color of Change, Sleeping Giants, the NAACP and the tech company Mozilla. The effort attracted surprisingly widespread support, with companies from Coca-Cola and Starbucks to Ford and Verizon agreeing to temporarily suspend their Facebook and Instagram ad budgets and thereby, joining a handful of outdoor brands that signed onto the campaign in late June.
The campaign’s goals include a demand that Facebook hire a “C-suite level executive” with civil rights expertise to perform an audit and issue refunds for advertisers who were victimized to run their ads run on hate content that was later removed for violating the platform’s terms of service.
Furthermore, the initiative calls for Facebook to identify and shut down both private and public groups that supported “white supremacy, militia, antisemitism, violent conspiracies, Holocaust denialism, vaccine misinformation and climate denialism.”
The boycott group also critiques Facebook’s incentive structure for content on its platform and how the company is politically manipulated with relationships like that with the Trump administration.
“Facebook is a company of incredible resources,” the boycott’s organizers wrote. “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.”
Although the boycott group doesn’t patronise other tech platforms as flawless, it has focused its efforts on Facebook owing to the company’s sheer size and scale of impact over its widespread user base.
“The size and the scope of it simply has no point of comparison,” Greenblatt said, citing the social network’s 2.6 billion users.
“We’re tired of the dialogue, because the stakes are so incredibly high for our communities,” González said, referring to the pandemic’s disproportionate negative health outcomes for people of color and the ongoing civil rights uprising following the killing of George Floyd. González also pointed out that Facebook profits from political ads “dehumanizing” brown and Black people in the U.S.
In the midst of renewed public scrutiny, Facebook announced last week that it would crack down on so-called “boogaloo” groups inciting anti-government violence. However, the boogaloo content not linked to violent threats may still remain untouched on the platform. The announcement came the same day when a group of Democratic senators warned the company on those groups — which it reveals to users via algorithms.
“We come together in the backdrop of George Floyd” Johnson said of the group’s campaign against Facebook, noting that communities are rightfully upholding companies to follow better standards on issues of race and race-based hate.
“We are simply saying, keep society safe. Keep your employees safe. And help us protect this democracy,” Johnson said.
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