Several businesses have suspended advertising on Facebook over the company’s failure to address hate speech on the platform.
The outdoor apparel and product retailers the North Face, REI, and Patagonia have pledged not to pay for advertising on Facebook platforms included in the “Stop Hate for Profit” campaign, launched Wednesday by advocacy groups like the Anti-Defamation League, the NAACP, and the Color Of Change. The freelance job listing site Upwork and the internet company Mozilla also have joined the pledge.
The movement asks advertisers to pressure the tech giant to adopt stricter policies against racist and hateful content on its platforms by pausing all shelling out for advertising with the company for the month of July.
Facebook makes $70bn in annual advertising revenue while “amplifying the messages of white supremacists” and “permitting incitement to violence”, according to the campaign.
“We have long seen how Facebook has allowed some of the worst elements of society into our homes and our lives,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, ceo of the Anti-Defamation League, in a statement. “Our organizations have tried individually and collectively to push Facebook to make their platforms safer, but they have repeatedly failed to take meaningful action. We hope this campaign finally shows Facebook how much their users and their advertisers want them to make serious changes for the better.”
James Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense, somebody in the campaign, said he expected more businesses to interact coming weeks. “Companies clearly have heightened awareness around issues of racial justice in the US right now,” that he said. “We are heartened by the progress and we think it is the right time for this.”
The campaign cites a number of examples to argue Facebook has failed to address misinformation and hate speech: it made Breitbart News a “trusted news source” despite its history of working together with white nationalists and neo-Nazis, was accused of allowing housing discrimination against communities of color, and failed to remove Holocaust denial posts.
Facebook is also the social media platform where the most Americans – 55% – reported experiencing hate and harassment, according to a 2019 ADL survey of Americans using the services.
The company has faced increased pressure to address hate speech and misinformation in recent months as its competitor Twitter began to flag false and incendiary statements from Donald Trump. Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has refused to rein in the American president or flag his posts regardless of the urging greater than 100 boffins, coordinated walkouts of employees protesting your choice, and criticisms from civil rights leaders.
Carolyn Everson, vice-president of Facebook’s world wide business group, said in a statement: “We deeply respect any brand’s decision, and remain focused on the important work of removing hate speech and providing critical voting information.”
Upwork said it would pause its advertising for the month of July. Its CEO, Hayden Brown, said the company “cannot stand by and be complicit to or complacent about the spread of hate, racism, and misinformation”. REI in a statement said that it would “put people over profits” by pulling its advertising.
The North Face is halting paid advertising on Facebook and Instagram for the next 30 days “to support the implementation of stricter policies to stop racist, violent or hateful content and misinformation from circulating on the Facebook platform”, a spokeswoman said by email. It will keep on to post unpaid, non-advertising content on its Instagram page.
“We stand in support of the NAACP and #StopHateforProfit organizations asking that Facebook stop promoting hate, bigotry, racism, antisemitism and violence,” she said. “We will re-evaluate our position over the next 30 days depending on these outcomes.”