The European vice president of Facebook was today ridiculed today for a disastrous interview in which he tried to defend the platform’s attempts to stop sharing “hate speech” in the midst of a boycott growing number of companies stopping advertising.
In a BBC car accident interview, Steve Hatch said there was “no tolerance on our platform for hate speech”, but said the debate around these issues was ” extremely difficult ”.
But Radio 4 Today host Nick Robinson accused Hatch of allowing “hate speech” on social media giant Mark Zuckerberg and of taking advantage of that content.
Robinson pointed to a message from US conservative activist Candace Owens calling George Floyd a “horrible human being”, which was the main comment on Facebook during the race riots.
Robinson claimed the message was the network’s main comment – not an isolated message that an algorithm missed – suggesting that Facebook “takes advantage of an algorithm that incites hatred and encourages sharing, making the business of billions of dollars “.
In an attempt to refute the accusation, Hatch replied: “When there is hatred in the world, there will also be hatred on Facebook. “
He also failed to discuss the harmful online content that fueled racial riots in America, adding, “The debates we see on all of these topics are extremely difficult and can be very broad. “
Steve Hatch said there was “no tolerance on our platform for hate speech”, but said debates around these issues were “extremely difficult”
Social media users who have listened said that Hatch was unable to refute allegations that Facebook was promoting “hate speech”
Robinson pointed to a post by pro-Trump activist Candace Owens calling George Floyd a “horrible human being”, which was the main Facebook comment at the time of the racial riots
Who is Steve Hatch?
Steve Hatch, 50, joined Facebook from the London news agency MEC, where he was managing director.
In December 2015, he was appointed non-executive director of Reach plc – then named Trinity Mirror.
The move of £ 45,000 a year has raised eyebrows because Reach pls owns the Daily and Sunday Mirror – which compete with Facebook for online advertising.
The company also publishes the Express and the Star and has more than 100 regional and local titles, including the Scottish Daily Record and Manchester Evening News, local news sites, and OK! Magazine.
Earlier this year, 32.9% of Reach plc shareholders voted to remove Hatch from the board after missing four of last year’s 11 main meetings.
He remains in office after obtaining the majority of votes.
Starbucks has become the latest household name to stop advertising, like Unilever and Coca-Cola, when the tech giant fails to fix the problem.
Ford, Adidas and HP have also joined the mass boycott.
Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg has been criticized for failing to act on the matter, including his decision to maintain a message from Donald Trump, in which the president said “when looting begins, filming begins”, when protests across the United States over the death of George Floyd.
Twitter hid the same tweet behind a warning that it “glorifies violence.”
Hatch told BBC Radio 4 Today: “There’s nothing to be gained from hateful content. “
But he admitted: “The debates we see around these subjects are extremely difficult and can be very, very broad.”
Hatch said the company had invested millions to try to fix the problem.
He added: “Our systems now detect and suppress 90% of hate speech automatically and it is not perfect, but we know it is up from 23% two years ago.
“But we know that systems are not the only answer, it’s about combining the strengths of Facebook with the community on Facebook itself. “
He said that most people “have a positive experience” on the social network, but admitted that there is a “small minority of those who are hateful” because “when there is hatred in the world, there will also be hatred on Facebook. ”
Robinson said Facebook “had chosen not to change the algorithm that encourages the sharing of hate speech and hatred of mainstream”.
Hatch countered, “It is not. I think it is horrible of course to see the events that have taken place in the United States and that are developing all over the world.
“But the way our systems work is to provide people with content more often than not, in millions and millions of cases, both enjoyable and safe and to allow people to have a chat.
More and more large companies are joining the #StopHateforProfit campaign
Facebook is facing increasing pressure on its non-intervention approach to disinformation and inflammatory messages, including messages from US President Donald Trump that have received much criticism.
Last week, a number of civil rights groups launched the “#StopHateforProfit” campaign, encouraging companies to remove ads from Facebook.
California-based North Face was the first to join the campaign, along with the Anti-Defamation League, NAACP, Sleeping Giants, Free Press and Common Sense.
Starbucks, Unilever, Coca-Cola, Ford, Adidas and HP also drew advertisements.
The campaign ran a full-page ad in the Los Angeles Times urging companies to boycott Facebook. The social media giant reportedly earned nearly $ 70 billion in advertising revenue last year.
‘What would you do with $ 70 billion?’ Asks for the #StopHateForProfit ad.
“We know what Facebook has done. They sparked violence against protesters fighting for racial justice in America in the wake of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks and so many others. “
The announcement continues to accuse Facebook of “turning a blind eye to the suppression of voters” and “amplifying white supremacists”.
“When we look at the United States, it’s a very polarized atmosphere right now and there are a lot of problems, some very disturbing and very worrying, where people want to chat and turn to online platforms to do it .
“Debates take place and these can often be difficult areas where people discuss them in a stream or in a group.”
Mr. Hatch denied that such discussions caused “real harm”.
When asked if racial riots in America constituted “real harm,” he replied, “The debates we see on all of these subjects are extremely difficult and can be very broad. “
This comes when Facebook launched an advertising campaign to raise awareness of fake news shared online, encouraging users to question what they see.
The initiative – designed in consultation with the Full Fact fact-checking partner – asks the public to check if a publication comes from a reliable source, to make sure they read beyond headlines and to be pay attention to the manipulated images, as well as think about how it makes them feel.
“People who make false news are trying to manipulate your feelings,” warned one of the messages.
“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. “
Patagonia boss revealed today that the company could stop advertising with Facebook “indefinitely” if the platform fails to solve a “rampant” problem with “hate speech”, anti-Semitism and denial of the climate.
The company joined several US companies to stop Facebook ad spending (pictured, CEO Mark Zuckerberg in February) last week, fearing that the main social network may have failed to suppress hate messages.
Ryan Gellert, managing director of the European outdoor clothing brand, said today that the tech giant’s business model is “flawed” and has benefited from hate speech and misinformation.
With a growing number of companies supporting the #StopHateforProfit campaign, Facebook’s share price fell more than 8% on Friday.
In response, the tech giant said it would ban ads containing claims that people of a specific race, religion or sexual orientation pose a threat to others.