It’s very interesting for us at KMG to watch how this movement unfolds. After the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the world’s eyes were opened to the true extent of the influence that Facebook has. It is not just a platform that stands alone objectively and therefore, innocently. Fake news spreads misinformation. This can be used to manipulate behaviour and even worse, Facebook’s algorithm that “provides personalised content” for the user, can re-affirm the user’s warped view of reality. It can then feed them with content that confirms their world view, radicalising and accelerating. The misinformation can have serious ramifications. Not to mention, extremist and hateful groups can mobilise in their thousands globally using Facebook.
What is #StopHateforProfit?
On June 17th, #StopHateforProfit asked companies to act against hate and disinformation being spread by Facebook in our campaign, Stop Hate for Profit. We asked businesses to temporarily pause advertising on Facebook and Instagram in order to force Mark Zuckerberg to address the effect that Facebook has had on our society.
Which companies have joined the boycott?
Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, Coca-Cola, Hershey, Honda Motor Company, Levi Strauss, Magnolia Pictures, North Face, Patagonia, Pepsi, Starbucks and Unilever.
What does #StopHateforProfit want Facebook to do?
According to their website, they are demanding Facebook make the following ten changes:
1. Establish and empower permanent civil rights infrastructure including C-suite level executive with civil rights expertise to evaluate products and policies for discrimination, bias, and hate. This person would make sure that the design and decisions of this platform considered the impact on all communities and the potential for radicalization and hate.
2. Submit to regular, third party, independent audits of identity-based hate and misinformation with summary results published on a publicly accessible website. We simply can no longer trust Facebook’s own claims on what they are or are not doing. A “transparency report” is only as good as its author is independent.
3. Provide audit of and refund to advertisers whose ads were shown next to content that was later removed for violations of terms of service. We have documented many examples of companies’ advertisements running alongside the horrible content that Facebook permits. That is not what most advertisers pay for, and they shouldn’t have to.
4. Find and remove public and private groups focused on white supremacy, militia, antisemitism, violent conspiracies, Holocaust denialism, vaccine misinformation, and climate denialism.
5. Adopting common-sense changes to their policies that will help stem radicalization and hate on the platform.
6. Stop recommending or otherwise amplifying groups or content from groups associated with hate, misinformation or conspiracies to users.
7. Create an internal mechanism to automatically flag hateful content in private groups for human review. Private groups are not small gatherings of friends – but can be hundreds of thousands of people large, which many hateful groups are.
8. Ensure accuracy in political and voting matters by eliminating the politician exemption; removing misinformation related to voting; and prohibiting calls to violence by politicians in any format. Given the importance of political and voting matters for society, Facebook’s carving out an exception in this area is especially dangerous.
9. Create expert teams to review submissions of identity-based hate and harassment. Forty two percent of daily users of Facebook have experienced harassment on the platform, and much of this harassment is based on the individual’s identity. Facebook needs to ensure that their teams understand the different types of harassment faced by different groups in order to adjudicate claims.
10. Enable individuals facing severe hate and harassment to connect with a live Facebook employee. In no other sector does a company not have a way for victims of their product to seek help.
What has been Facebook’s response? (Paraphrasing courtesy of Search Engine Land)
In the face of intensifying public pressure, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted a statement vowing to make a number of policy and practical changes on the platform:
- Providing voting information and helping people register to vote
- Preventing “new forms of potential voter suppression”
- Banning “any content that misleads people on when or how they can vote,” including “respond and remove false claims about polling conditions in the 72 hours leading into Election Day.”
- Helping prevent voter intimidation on the platform
- Ads policy will now “prohibit claims that people from a specific race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, caste, sexual orientation, gender identity or immigration status are a threat to the physical safety, health or survival of others”
- Labeling but allowing content from public figures that otherwise violates terms
- Removing content, regardless of the source, “if we determine that content may lead to violence or deprive people of their right to vote”
Whilst freedom of speech should be protected, fake news has threatened this human right. These are the new realities. With bigger brands and celebrities wading in to support the movement including Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the responsibilities is on Facebook’s shoulders to do what is right.