After weeks of criticism from civil rights groups and hundreds of cancellations from advertisers, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives at the table.
Zuckerberg will lead a virtual meeting on Tuesday with the Anti-Defamation League, the NAACP and Color of Change, a civil rights group, which together want a serious and once and for all disruption in the way Facebook manages its platform form.
According to Jonathan Greenblatt, Executive Director of the Anti-Defamation League, the list of groups’ demands is to place civil rights leaders in the aftermath of the business, rather than just leaving important questions to human resource managers focused on the diversity. The group also wants hate victims to be able to connect with a live employee on Facebook.
“They have more adherents than Christianity,” said Greenblatt. “Why can’t they solve this very basic problem? Sectarianism is not a business model. “
Civil rights organizations are not alone in calling for an overhaul. Corporate America, shaken by the upheavals of society and the economic insecurity caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, is highly concentrated on Facebook.
In the past two weeks, hundreds of advertisers, from Absolut Vodka to Walgreens, have abandoned their Facebook ads to protest, resulting in millions of dollars in lost revenue as part of the Stop Hate for Profit movement. Some stopped advertising for July, while others, like Unilever, ended advertising for the rest of the year. Unilever had threatened to boycott extremism on the platform in 2018.
Facebook has resisted similar calls in recent years while making some changes to the way it handles hate speech. The company highlighted research that found it had suppressed 90% of hate speech before it was reported, demonstrating that it has made great strides in its moderation efforts.
Greenblatt was not terribly moved by this statement.
“Ford Motor Company cannot say that 90% of our seat belts are working,” he said.
Advertisers have never given up on Facebook in such numbers, and even if Zuckerberg would have downplayed the impact on business, activists and advertisers are under pressure like never before.
An expert from a social media agency, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private business conversations, said Facebook’s sentiment has changed.
“We know that our Facebook representatives went out of their way to try to convince us to stay on the platform,” said the expert.
An ad agency official not allowed to speak publicly about private advertising strategies said brands were revising all aspects of their advertising budgets due to COVID-19, making it easier to opt out of Facebook.
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Facebook’s financial loss, which continues to grow but remains small compared to its $ 70 billion in annual advertising revenue, has been a gain for YouTube and Spotify, according to the executive, who added that the companies also embezzle funds Facebook advertisers to support Black- owned by their own businesses and their own online sales initiatives as consumption patterns are radically changing.
Facebook has already made some changes. He promised $ 1.1 billion to fight for racial justice. On June 26, Facebook said it would label some controversial articles “newsworthy” to let the objectionable content of politicians rise.
On June 30, Carolyn Everson, vice president of global marketing solutions for Facebook, shared her frustrations with customers in a public message on her Facebook page.
“The past few weeks have been the hardest part of my professional career, with endless days, sleepless nights and more than a few tears. It is devastating when the people and organizations you respect and admire the most criticize the thing to which you have dedicated a decade of your life, “she wrote.
Everson, in a call with advertisers last week, said that many of the recommendations made by civil rights groups and advertisers were already being implemented. For example, Facebook allows people to block other users and control comments on their posts.
But beyond the changes brought by Facebook, there is little indication that it will make major announcements. And that could mean a dead end between Facebook and advertisers.
Three people familiar with the thought of Facebook executives who weren’t allowed to speak publicly said the company was listening, but that it was unlikely to announce major policy changes.
Terence Kawaja, managing director of LUMA Partners, a consulting firm specializing in digital media and marketing mergers and acquisitions, said he was concerned that Zuckerberg’s position was already clear.
“They should reorient their attitude in this regard,” said Kawaja. “It seems to be that of obstinacy. “