'No commitment to action' from Zuckerberg, boycott organisers say

Facebook advertising boycott organisers expressed disappointment after meeting with CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday.

    Facebook 'refused to offer' live user support with a Facebook rep, and provided no details on an independent hate speech audit it has discussed with advertisers, according to one of the boycott organisers [File: Bloomberg]
    Facebook 'refused to offer' live user support with a Facebook rep, and provided no details on an independent hate speech audit it has discussed with advertisers, according to one of the boycott organisers [File: Bloomberg]

    Organisers of a growing Facebook Inc advertising boycott said they saw "no commitment to action" after meeting with Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday.

    More than 900 advertisers have signed on to the Stop Hate for Profit campaign, organised by social justice groups including the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and Free Press, to pressure the world's largest social media network to take concrete steps to block hate speech and misinformation, in the wake of the death of George Floyd in police custody.

    "They [Facebook] showed up to the meeting expecting an A for attendance," said Rashad Robinson, president of Color Of Change, one of the boycott organisers, during a press call following the meeting.

    The campaign, which calls for advertisers to pause their Facebook ads for July, has outlined 10 changes it wants from Facebook, including allowing victims of severe harassment to speak with a company employee and giving refunds to brands whose ads show up next to offensive content that is later removed.

    They [Facebook] showed up to the meeting expecting an A for attendance.

    Rashad Robinson, president, Color Of Change

    Color Of Change said in a statement the only recommendation Zuckerberg and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg attempted to address in the meeting was establishing a civil rights position within the company, but they would not commit to making it a senior executive job or to defining the role.

    Facebook "refused to offer" live user support with a Facebook rep, and provided no details on an independent hate speech audit it has discussed with advertisers, Color Of Change said.

    Facebook did not immediately respond to a Reuters news agency request for comment.

    The campaign to boycott the social media giant quickly gained ground in recent weeks.

    On Friday, Canada's biggest lenders joined in. The Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto-Dominion Bank, Bank of Nova Scotia, Bank of Montreal, National Bank of Canada and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce all said they will pause advertising on Facebook platforms in July.

    At the end of June, Unilever PLC also pledged to stop advertising on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for the rest of the year, citing "divisiveness and hate speech during this polarized election period in the US".

    The consumer goods company, which owns brands like Dove soap and Lipton tea, added that it would rethink its ad break when the time comes. 

    "Continuing to advertise on these platforms at this time would not add value to people and society. We will be monitoring ongoing and will revisit our current position if necessary," Unilever said in a statement.

    SOURCE: Reuters news agency