Imran Ahmed, managing director of the British non-profit Center for Countering Digital Hate, said: “There is a very strong argument that advertisers should also boycott Facebook in Europe.“In the United States, I think the question of Facebook’s role in spreading hatred is highly political, but in Europe it is widely accepted as a serious problem.
“Maybe it took some of the fire and energy from calls to Facebook to change his behavior. But most polls show that there is an even stronger desire in Europe for Facebook to be held responsible for hate speech and misinformation that spreads across its platform. ”
In response to criticism, Zuckerberg announced last month a series of changes to the platform’s hate speech policies, banning content demonizing immigrants and further restricting publications making false statements about the vote.
While some advertisers, including Patagonia and Ford, reduced their international spending on the campaign, others like Unilever only took action in the United States. The UK-based conglomerate, which owns brands such as Ben and Jerry’s and Marmite, explained its decision with reference to the “polarized electoral period in the United States”. Unilever did not respond to requests for comment.
Last week, many companies that joined the boycott announced that they would be cutting all of their spending globally. Lego chief marketing officer Julia Goldin said the company “will take immediate steps to carefully review the standards we apply to advertising and engagement on global social media platforms”, and will suspend all spending for 30 days. “We are convinced that there are solutions but urgent action is necessary,” added Goldin.
But the lack of a truly global response, particularly from the biggest advertisers, has been criticized by activists and emboldened Facebook’s top management. According to a report from the technology information site The Information, Zuckerberg views the boycott as a public relations problem rather than a serious threat and does not anticipate a major response.
“We are not going to change our policies or our approach to anything because of a threat to a small percentage of our income, or to any percentage of our income,” he said, depending on the site. “I guess all of these advertisers will be back on the platform soon enough. ”
Advertisers had to make sure their message was clear, said Ahmed. “If you are a large company and you withdraw your advertising from the United States but not from the rest of the world, that calls into question your commitment.
“It is now clear that lawmakers worldwide are reluctant to take strong legislative or regulatory action. It is therefore up to civil society, which includes businesses, to send a clear message to social media companies. ”
Ahmed’s call came after a group of 37 UK charities, including Barnardo’s, Mind and Parkinson’s UK, threatened to limit spending on social media engagement if platforms such as Facebook don’t did not attack hate speech.