Face­book ad boy­cott cam­paign to go global, or­ga­niz­ers say

Iran Daily - - Front Page -

Or­ga­niz­ers of a Face­book Inc. ad­ver­tis­ing boy­cott cam­paign that has drawn sup­port from a rapidly ex­pand­ing list of ma­jor com­pa­nies are now pre­par­ing to take the bat­tle global to in­crease pres­sure on the so­cial me­dia com­pany to re­move hate speech.

The “Stop Hate for Profit” cam­paign will be­gin call­ing on ma­jor com­pa­nies in Europe to join the boy­cott, Jim Steyer, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Com­mon Sense Me­dia, said in an in­ter­view with Reuters.

Since the cam­paign launched ear­lier this month, more than 160 com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing Ver­i­zon Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Unilever Plc, have signed on to stop buy­ing ads on the world’s largest so­cial me­dia plat­form for the month of July.

Free Press and Com­mon Sense, along with US civil rights groups Color of Change and the Anti-defama­tion League, launched the cam­paign fol­low­ing the death of Ge­orge Floyd, an un­armed black man killed by Min­neapo­lis po­lice.

“The next fron­tier is global pres­sure,” Steyer said, adding the cam­paign hopes to em­bolden reg­u­la­tors in Europe to take a harder stance on Face­book. The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion in June an­nounced new guide­lines for tech com­pa­nies in­clud­ing Face­book to sub­mit monthly re­ports on how they are han­dling coro­n­avirus mis­in­for­ma­tion.

The out­rage in the United States over the death of Floyd has led to an un­prece­dented re­ac­tion from cor­po­ra­tions around the world. Its im­pact has been felt be­yond US bor­ders.

The global cam­paign will pro­ceed as or­ga­niz­ers con­tinue to urge more US com­pa­nies to par­tic­i­pate. Jes­sica Gon­za­lez, co-chief ex­ec­u­tive of Free Press, said she has con­tacted ma­jor US telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions and me­dia com­pa­nies to ask them to join the cam­paign.

Re­spond­ing to de­mands for more ac­tion, Face­book on Sun­day ac­knowl­edged it has more work to do and is teaming up with civil rights groups and ex­perts to de­velop more tools to fight hate speech. Face­book said its in­vest­ments in ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence have al­lowed it to find 90 per­cent of hate speech be­fore users re­port it.

Ex­pand­ing the cam­paign out­side the United States will take a big­ger slice off of Face­book’s ad­ver­tis­ing rev­enue but is not likely have ma­jor fi­nan­cial im­pact. Unilever, for in­stance, on Fri­day com­mit­ted to paus­ing its US spend­ing on Face­book for the rest of the year. That only ac­counts for about 10 per­cent of its over­all es­ti­mated $250 mil­lion it spends on Face­book ad­ver­tis­ing an­nu­ally, ac­cord­ing to Richard Green­field of Light­shed Part­ners, a me­dia and tech re­search firm.

Steyer said they will urge global ad­ver­tis­ers such as Unilever and Honda, which have only com­mit­ted to paus­ing US ads, to pull their Face­book ads glob­ally.

An­nu­ally, Face­book gen­er­ates $70 bil­lion in ad­ver­tis­ing sales and about a quar­ter of it comes from big com­pa­nies such as Unilever with the vast ma­jor­ity of its rev­enue de­rived from small busi­nesses.

But the pub­lic­ity around its hate speech poli­cies have hurt its per­cep­tion and stock. On Fri­day, Face­book’s 8.3% de­cline in stock price wiped out $56 bil­lion in mar­ket cap­i­tal­iza­tion.

The re­newed push to urge more com­pa­nies out­side of the United States to join demon­strates the level of frus­tra­tion felt by so­cial jus­tice groups and the com­pa­nies that sup­port them over Face­book’s lack of ac­tion on mis­in­for­ma­tion and hate speech, Steyer said.

He and Gon­za­lez said Face­book’s ef­forts on Fri­day to in­tro­duce new mea­sures to ban ads and la­bel hate speech from politi­cians to ap­pease boy­cotters fell short of the cam­paign’s de­mands.

“If they think they are done based on Fri­day, they are sorely mis­taken,” Gon­za­lez said. “We don’t need a one-off pol­icy here and there. We need com­pre­hen­sive pol­icy.”

Stop Hate for Profit has out­lined a set of de­mands, which in­clude a sep­a­rate mod­er­a­tion process to help users who are tar­geted by race and other iden­ti­fiers, more trans­parency on how many in­ci­dents of hate speech are re­ported and to stop gen­er­at­ing ad rev­enue from harm­ful con­tent.

More­over, Face­book did not ad­dress de­mands that it re­fund com­pa­nies whose ads are dis­played next to con­tent that is later re­moved for pol­icy vi­o­la­tions, said Ian Orekondy, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Ad­com­plyrx, an ad­ver­tis­ing tech com­pany that helps phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal brands with their dig­i­tal ads, which has joined the boy­cott.

The boy­cott has ac­cel­er­ated to in­clude other dig­i­tal ad­ver­tis­ing plat­forms such as Twit­ter. Star­bucks said Sun­day it would pause ad­ver­tis­ing on all so­cial me­dia plat­forms while it works with civil rights or­ga­ni­za­tions to “stop the spread of hate speech.”

DADO RUVIC/REUTERS

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