Facebook says it will now label newsworthy content, activists argue


Last week, Facebook announced that it will start labeling newsworthy content that violates the social media company’s policies, and label all posts and ads about voting with links to authoritative information, including those from politicians.

A Facebook spokeswoman confirmed Reuters that its new policy would have meant attaching a link on voting information to US President Donald Trump’s post last month about mail-in ballots. Rival Twitter had affixed a fact-checking label to that post.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Image: Getty.

Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said in a live-streamed company townhall that Facebook would also ban ads that claim people from groups based on race, religion, sexual orientation or immigration status are a threat to physical safety or health.

The policy changes come during a growing ad boycott campaign, called “Stop Hate for Profit,” that was started by several US civil rights groups after the death of George Floyd, to pressure the company to act on hate speech and misinformation.

Zuckerberg’s address fell short, said Rashad Robinson, president of civil rights group Color Of Change, which is one of the groups behind the boycott campaign.

“What we’ve seen in today’s address from Mark Zuckerberg is a failure to wrestle with the harms FB has caused on our democracy & civil rights,” Robinson tweeted. “If this is the response he’s giving to major advertisers withdrawing millions of dollars from the company, we can’t trust his leadership.”

Meanwhile, Facebook CEO “became $7.2 billion poorer” after the companies pulled advertising from the network, according to a report by Bloomberg.

Shares of Facebook closed 8.3 percent lower, and Twitter’s fell 7.3 percent after Unilever PLC said it would stop its US ads on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for the rest of the year, citing “divisiveness and hate speech during this polarized election period in the US.”

(Also read: Magnolia Pictures, Northface, other US companies pull ads from Facebook, Instagram is the support of #StopHateForProfit campaign)

More than 90 advertisers including Japanese carmaker Honda Motor Co Ltd’s US subsidiary, Unilever’s Ben & Jerry’s, Verizon Communications Inc, and The North Face, a unit of VF Corp, have joined the campaign, according to a list by ad activism group Sleeping Giants.

The campaign specifically asks businesses not to advertise on Facebook’s platforms in July, though Twitter has also long been urged to clean up alleged abuses and misinformation on its platform.

On 26 June, Coca Cola also told CNBC that it will pause advertising on all social media platforms globally.

“We have developed policies and platform capabilities designed to protect and serve the public conversation, and as always, are committed to amplifying voices from under-represented communities and marginalized groups,” said Sarah Personette, vice president for Twitter’s Global Client Solutions.

“We are respectful of our partners’ decisions and will continue to work and communicate closely with them during this time.”

In a statement, a Facebook spokeswoman pointed to its civil rights audit and investments in Artificial Intelligence that allow it to find and take action on hate speech.

“We know we have more work to do, and we’ll continue to work with civil rights groups, GARM, and other experts to develop even more tools, technology and policies to continue this fight,” she said, referring to the Global Alliance for Responsible Media.

With inputs from Reuters.

 

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