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Meeting with Zuckerberg ‘disappointing’, Facebook ad boycott organisers say

Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

By Jamie Harris, PA Science Technology Reporter

Organisers of a major Facebook advertising boycott have described a meeting with bosses as “disappointing”, saying Mark Zuckerberg and other senior executives are not yet ready to address hate on their platform.

Mr Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg held virtual talks with civil rights groups leading the #StopHateForProfit campaign, which has led to an exodus of advertisers on the social network.

Coca-Cola, Adidas and Unilever are among the hundreds of companies to pull advertising, at least temporarily for the entire month of July.

Leaders of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP), Colour Of Change, Free Press and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) – who are part of the campaign, said: “Zuckerberg offered the same old defence of white supremacist, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic and other hateful groups on Facebook that the Stop Hate For Profit Coalitions, advertisers and society at large have heard too many times before.

“Instead of actually responding to the demands of dozens of the platform’s largest advertisers that have joined the #StopHateForProfit ad boycott during the month of July, Facebook wants us to accept the same old rhetoric, repackaged as a fresh response.”

Rashad Robinson, president of Colour Of Change, tweeted: “It was a disappointment.

“They have had our demands for years and yet it is abundantly clear that they are not yet ready to address the vitriolic hate on their platform.”

The group said the only recommendation Facebook bosses attempted to address is hiring a civil rights position but they were unable to commit to that person being placed at the “C-suite level” with other chiefs.

“Zuckerberg offered no automatic recourse for advertisers whose content runs alongside hateful posts,” a statement by organisers continued.

“He had no answer for why Facebook recommends hateful groups to users.

“He refused to agree to provide an option for victims of hate and harassment to connect with a live Facebook representative.”

The boycott came about after the social network refused to take down a post by Donald Trump.

During Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of George Floyd’s killing, the US president said: “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

Following the talks, a Facebook spokesman said: “This meeting was an opportunity for us to hear from the campaign organisers and reaffirm our commitment to combating hate on our platform.

“They want Facebook to be free of hate speech and so do we.

“That’s why it’s so important that we work to get this right.

“As a company, we have agreed to an independent civil rights audit which will be released today. We have invested billions in people and technology to keep hate off of our platform.

“We have created new policies to prohibit voter and census interference and have launched the largest voting information campaign in American history.

“We have banned more than 250 white supremacist organisations and are holding ourselves accountable by producing regular reports about our content moderation efforts.

“We know we will be judged by our actions not by our words and are grateful to these groups and many others for their continued engagement.”

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