Ad boycott group left disappointed after meeting with Facebook

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At the beginning of July, a number of high-profile brands like Coca-Cola announced that it would be halting all its digital advertising for 30 days, citing Facebook in particular as a platform it would be boycotting during the month. This ad boycott was led in part by a group called Stop Hate For Profit, and earlier this week leaders from this group held a meeting with top executives at Facebook.

Unfortunately the meeting did not yield anything tangible, with co-CEO of Free Press, Jessica Gonzalez, explaining that her talks with the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg and others did not inspire confidence.

“#StopHateForProfit didn’t hear anything today to convince us that Zuckerberg and his colleagues are taking action,” she noted.

“Instead of committing to a timeline to root out hate and disinformation on Facebook, the company’s leaders delivered the same old talking points to try to placate us without meeting our demands.This isn’t over. We will continue to expand the boycott until Facebook takes our demands seriously,” she added.

While we are not privy to the details discussed in the meeting, the rhetoric that Gonzalez refers to, does sound familiar, especially as Facebook employees shared similar sentiments during a recent town hall with its CEO.

“Zuckerberg offered the same old defense of white supremacist, antisemitic, islamophobic and other hateful groups on Facebook that the Stop Hate For Profit Coalitions, advertisers and society at large have heard too many times before,” the ad boycott leaders shared in a statement.

“Instead of actually responding to the demands of dozens of the platform’s largest advertisers that have joined the #StopHateForProfit ad boycott during the month of July, Facebook wants us to accept the same old rhetoric, repackaged as a fresh response,” they added.

Unexpectedly, Facebook’s view of the meeting was different, with an unnamed spokesperson noting to Engadget that the company welcomed the opportunity to engage.

“(It) was an opportunity for us to hear from the campaign organizers and reaffirm our commitment to combating hate on our platform,” they said.

The social media platform also highlighted some of its recent efforts as far as banning hate groups and taking ownership of election influence are concerned.

“We have created new policies to prohibit voter and census interference and have launched the largest voting information campaign in American history. We have banned more than 250 white supremacist organizations and are holding ourselves accountable by producing regular reports about our content moderation efforts. We know we will be judged by our actions not by our words and are grateful to these groups and many others for their continued engagement,” Facebook pointed to in a statement.

Following all the feedback from the meeting, it seems like the ad boycott leaders and Facebook are back to square one. Whether the company can indeed address several of its issues with regard to hateful content is published and shared on its platform remains to be seen.

It will also be interesting to see how Stop Hate For Profit aims to intensify its efforts moving forward, and whether big brands will join them beyond the initial 30 day ad boycott.

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

When he's not reviewing the latest smartphones, Robin-Leigh is writing about everything tech-related from IoT and smart cities, to 5G and cloud computing. He's also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games.