The organizers of the Facebook ad boycott met with Zuckerberg. It did not go well


“The meeting we just left was a disappointment,” said Rashad Robinson, president of Color of Change. ” [Facebook] showed up at the meeting hoping for an “A” for participation. ”

Free Press, a group of media activists and one of the organizers of the #StopHateForProfit campaign to stop spending on social media advertising, said Facebook had still not taken boycott calls seriously.

“Instead of committing to a schedule to eliminate hatred and misinformation on Facebook, company leaders have delivered the same old talking points to try to appease us without responding to our requests,” said Jessica Gonzalez, co-CEO of Free Press. “Facebook approached our meeting today as if it were just a PR exercise. ”

In a statement, Facebook spokesman Andy Stone said the company had established new policies prohibiting voting and the suppression of the census and removed more than 200 white supremacist organizations from the platform.

“This meeting was an opportunity for us to hear the organizers of the campaign and to reaffirm our commitment to fighting hate on our platform. They want Facebook to be free from hate speech and so do we, “the statement said. “We know that we will be judged by our actions and not by our words and we are grateful to these groups and many others for their continued engagement. “

A long list of large and small businesses, including household names like The North Face, Pfizer (PFE) and Levi Strauss (LEVI), joined the pressure campaign on the management by the social network of hate speech and disinformation. Companies participating in the protest have promised to remove their Facebook and Instagram ads for at least the month of July.

The protest came after Facebook decided not to follow up on a series of controversial messages from President Donald Trump – including one during racial justice protests that said “looting” would lead to “shooting”. Facebook and Zuckerberg were under pressure from employees and politicians, but the advertising boycott posed a more direct potential threat to the core business of the social network.

Tuesday’s meeting lasted just over an hour and took place via Zoom, said Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League. The meeting included Zuckerberg, COO Sheryl Sandberg, product manager Chris Cox, and members of the Facebook political team, he said.

The campaign called on participating brands to request 10 changes that seemingly affect all aspects of Facebook’s operation, from the ads it allows to run on the platform to the composition of its management team and its moderation policies. content.

Facebook to label more controversial content and tighten advertising policies

The list includes the requirement that Facebook hire a C-Suite executive with “deep” experience in civil rights to assess products and policies of discrimination, bias and hatred. The organizers are also asking Facebook to commit to regular, independent audits of hate and misinformation; suppress public and private groups focused on hateful or violent conspiracies and stop the recommendation and scope of these groups; and give all moderators anti-bias and hate-related training in the next 90 days.

The group also wants Facebook to ban political ads with blatant lies, which the company has been criticized for allowing in the past. Facebook has previously championed politics, saying it doesn’t want to censor political speech.

Greenblatt said the groups had methodically exposed their demands at the meeting, such as the call for a new post of civil rights director on Facebook, but had received no commitments or time for change.

“We had 10 requests and literally went through 10, and we didn’t get commitments or clear deadlines or results,” said Greenblatt. Zuckerberg came to the meeting to express his appreciation for the opportunity to hear the nuances of the groups’ positions, added Greenblatt. “And we said, ‘There is no nuance in white nationalism.’ ”

Many organizations have expressed disappointment at what they have said are repeated dialogues with few results.

“For more than 2 years, the NAACP has been engaged in a dialogue,” said Derrick Johnson, president of the NAACP. “We saw the conversation flourish in the void. ”

Gonzalez told CNN Business that she was “really tired of the vague promises” and that her organization might not attend future meetings with Facebook.

“I don’t know if I’m going to sit down again until they have actually made commitments,” she said.

Robinson said his previous meeting with Facebook – as well as the apparent futility of the meetings – had helped inspire the boycott campaign.

“At the June 1 meeting, I kept saying, ‘What are we doing ourselves – Mark, why do we meet? “That’s when I knew we were going to boycott,” said Robinson. “Facebook has our requests and recommendations, and therefore all other meetings need commitments. ”

In a Facebook article Tuesday morning, Sandberg said the company will release the final report on Wednesday as part of a two-year audit of the company’s civil rights.

“It helped us learn a lot about what we could do best, and we put into practice many of the recommendations from listeners and the broader civil rights community,” wrote Sandberg. “Although we are not making all of the requested changes, we will soon be putting more of their proposals into practice. ”

Civil rights groups have expressed skepticism about the likelihood that the report will lead to change.

“It’s as good as what Facebook ends up doing with the content,” said Robinson of Color of Change. “It’s like going to a doctor, getting a new set of eating recommendations, doing nothing, and asking yourself why you’re not in better health.” “

Kaya Yurieff contributed to this report.


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