At the start of the Stop Hate for Profit campaign, we asked companies to help us send a message that Facebook must stop valuing profits over hate, bigotry, racism, and disinformation.
Thanks to the tremendous support of more than 1,100 companies, over 100 non-profits, labor groups, and religious organizations, and countless individuals demanding that Facebook Stop Hate for Profit, we did the unthinkable. We sent a clear message to Facebook: society is no longer willing to tolerate social media companies profiting from hate.
It is a message other social media companies have heard clearly, and have taken a leadership role. For example, Twitter took strong action against dangerous conspiracy theories that have led to real-life violence. Reddit took action against a thread known for violent threats and doxing. YouTube took overdue action against white supremacists who use their platform. While these steps are not sufficient, they show a commitment toward real progress. More importantly, these companies are at the table with us and actively working to take additional steps.
And it is a message that Mark Zuckerberg has been forced to hear by the collective actions of many, not just our coalition. He cannot turn away from the demands of his employees, the demands of his advertisers, the demands of his users, and the demands of society. Mr. Zuckerberg didn’t expect advertisers to revolt, they did. Mark didn’t expect employees to speak up, they did. He didn’t expect civil rights organizations to unite, we did. He didn’t expect Facebook to pay a financial price, it did.
“The entire world is now watching to see whether Mark Zuckerberg will act, or fail to act, on the vitriolic hate that his own platform continues to fuel,” said Derrick Johnson, president and CEO, NAACP. “His users have been pushing back, over 1,100 major companies have stopped running ads, civil rights groups have expressed serious concerns, and now the U.S. Congress has been put on notice. He cannot continue to dance his way around his failures, the same way he did in our meeting recently. As the CEO, he must take responsibility and act, because our democracy is ultimately at stake. Until then, we will not stop fighting against hate. Mark Zuckerberg, the ball is in your court.”
As a result of our campaign, Facebook has finally begun to take some action, too. They have created a new senior position dedicated to civil rights, which directly happened because of our demands. They finally released a long-delayed civil rights audit that showed their “vexing” policy decisions were “setbacks for civil rights.” While we are still awaiting additional details, their new commitment to an independent audit may end up satisfying an additional demand of ours if it’s comprehensive, includes in its rubric and evaluation methodology the interests of civil rights organizations, and is conducted at regular intervals. And they have finally begun taking long-overdue action against some hateful groups like Boogaloo. If not for Stop Hate for Profit and this extraordinary coalition of businesses, nonprofits and consumers, none of this would have happened.
To be clear, Facebook has not yet approached the type of meaningful action that we want to see. The issue is not that Facebook just lags competitors in working systemically to address hate and bigotry on their platform. To use a favorite term of Facebook’s leadership, Facebook’s attitude towards seriously addressing how their algorithms push hate, violent conspiracy theories, and disinformation is transparently “inauthentic.” They treat meetings and dialogue as outcomes. They put more effort into obfuscation, lobbying, and distribution of misleading talking points than seriously addressing the deadly consequences of their choice to profit from hate. In the words of one of their own engineers who resigned this month over leadership’s unwillingness to take action on problematic content, “Facebook is hurting people at scale.” Society cannot afford the Facebook status quo.
We called for a Facebook ad pause for the month of July as an initial salvo for the Stop Hate for Profit movement. Many companies have already said they are not ready to return to Facebook’s platforms. We applaud them for that decision. We see this movement growing in Europe and in other areas. And we have commitments from many parties to participate in future pauses if Facebook refuses to change.
This movement will not go away until Facebook makes reasonable changes that society wants. The ad pause in July was not a full campaign – it was a warning shot across Facebook’s bow. This movement only will get bigger and broader until Facebook takes the common-sense steps necessary to mitigate the damage it causes. Now, we know that change will not happen overnight, and we remain willing to engage with Facebook when they are prepared to commit to a public timeframe and substantive action relative to our very straightforward demands. Mark Zuckerberg, the ball is in your court.