This Tuesday, leaders of the Facebook ad boycott sat down with Facebook executives to discuss next steps. Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg, and Chief Product Officer Chris Cox were all in attendance along with the organizers of the #StopHateforProfit campaign. But all four of the organizers agree that the meeting was a disappointment.
Facebook Advertising Boycott Picks Up Speed
In response to Facebook’s policies, a small group of activists started the #StopHateforProfit campaign. Organizers included; Color of Change, the Anti-Defamation League, the NAACP, and Free Press.
The boycott initially began in response to a single post by President Trump. The post in question implied that the President might use force against peaceful protesters. But Facebook chose not to remove the post, because it claimed it was in the public’s interest to read.
Whether or not it’s true, the post violated Facebook’s own hate speech policy. The activist coalition then called upon advertisers to boycott the platform, which depends on ads for about 98% of its revenue.
As a result, within two weeks, hundreds of big brands joined the Facebook ad boycott. Among the protesting companies are:
- Blue Shield California
- Levi Strauss
- Sony Game
Following the boycott avalanche, Tuesday’s meeting was intended to address how Facebook will handle hate speech in the future. But leaders of the campaign now claim that the Facebook execs offered little action toward addressing these concerns.
An Unenthusiastic Response
The four campaign organizers all spoke out about the disappointing nature of the hourlong meeting.
“Today we saw little and heard just about nothing,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League. He said Facebook showed no urgency toward addressing hate speech and misinformation.
“We had 10 demands,” Greenblatt said. “Literally, we went through the 10, and didn’t get commitments or timeframes or clear outcomes.” He also condemned Zuckerberg’s lukewarm response to the situation. Facebook’s founder had previously said that he looked forward the the group’s “nuanced” position. “There is no nuance in white nationalism,” Greenblatt said.
Color of Change President, Rashad Robinson, echoed Greenblatt’s response. His opinion was that executives seemed to be “expecting an A for attendance.” But Facebook has neglected any meaningful action.
“It’s like going to a doctor, getting a new set of recommendations about your diet, and not doing anything about it and wondering why you’re not any healthier,” Robinson said.
Finally, NAACP President Derrick Johnson summed up the meeting this way: “We’ve watched the conversation blossom into nothingness.”
A Failed Attempt at Placation
Two weeks before the meeting, Facebook tried to assuage frustrations by making minor tweaks its policies. The company changed its censorship policy banning hate speech in advertisements, but not in posts. The company also said it would label newsworthy, yet inaccurate posts as such. But the boycotters chalk these steps up to PR decisions. In their view, these small steps fall short of their most urgent demands.