Six civil rights groups are calling on businesses to stop advertising on Facebook in July as part of a campaign called #StopHateforProfit to get the social network to do more to combat hate speech and misinformation.
The Anti-Defamation League, the NAACP, Sleeping Giants, Colors of Change, Free Press and Common Sense said Wednesday that boycotting advertising on Facebook will putting pressure on the platform to use its $70 billion in annual advertising revenue to support people who are targets of racism and hate and to increase safety for private groups on the site.
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"We have long seen how Facebook has allowed some of the worst elements of society into our homes and our lives. When this hate spreads online it causes tremendous harm and also becomes permissible offline," Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a press release. "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."
More than 55 percent of Facebook users reported experiencing hate and harassment on the platform, according to the ADL's survey of Americans using social media.
The groups say that Facebook has allowed content that could incite violence against protesters who are fighting for racial justice in the wake of the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery and Rayshard Brooks. Facebook faced criticism for not removing posts by President Donald Trump about the protests that advocacy groups and even the company's own employees said could incite violence. Trump included the controversial phrase "when the looting starts, the shooting starts" in his social media posts. Twitter placed a notice over Trump's tweet for "glorifying violence" and users are still able to see his remarks if they click on the notice. Facebook didn't take action against Trump's posts because the company determined it didn't violate its rules.
Facebook also included Breitbart News, a far-right site, as a "trusted" source in its news service and The Daily Caller is one of the company's fact checking partners. The company didn't take action against misinformation from Trump about mail-in ballots and the groups say the social network has "turned a blind eye to blatant voter suppression."
"Let's send Facebook a powerful message: Your profits will never be worth promoting hate, bigotry, racism, antisemitism and violence," the StopHateforProfit campaign's website states. The groups' list of recommendations for Facebook include creating a separate "moderation pipeline" for hate speech, allowing users who have been targeted with hate or harassment to speak to a live Facebook employee and removing all ads that contain hate speech or misinformation.
In a press call on Wednesday, Facebook's Vice President of Global Affairs and Communications Nick Clegg said the company doesn't allow hate speech on its platform. Facebook removed nearly 10 million posts for violating its rules against hate speech in the last quarter, he said, and most were taken down before users reported them. The social network relies on a mix of human reviewers and technology to moderate content, but detecting hate speech can be challenging because machines have to understand the cultural context of words.
"Of course, we would like to do even better than that," Clegg said. "We need to do more. We need to move faster but we are making significant progress."
Trump's false claims about mail-in ballots didn't violate the company's rules against voter suppression because his comments were directed at state authorities and he was engaged in a debate about mail-in voting versus discouraging people to vote, Clegg said.
The campaign to boycott Facebook advertising came a day after the company announced that it would allow some users in the US to turn off political advertising. The social network is also trying to help 4 million people register to vote and launched a new online hub for voter information.
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