Tech World

Sat 27 June 2020:

Facebook will put warning labels on posts that break its rules but are considered newsworthy, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Friday. The new policy marks a reversal for Zuckerberg and comes as more brands pledge to stop advertising on the social network until it does more to curb hate speech and harmful content.

A Facebook spokeswoman confirmed the company’s new policy would have covered a link on United States President Donald Trump’s post about mail-in ballots last month, to which Facebook’s smaller rival Twitter affixed a fact-checking label.

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

Facebook’s hands-off approach to Trump’s most inflammatory rhetoric has come under pressure for weeks now from Democrats, civil rights groups and even Facebook employees. But Zuckerberg has held firm, saying he believes people should be able to see what politicians say no matter how offensive. He has criticized Twitter’s decision to label the president’s tweets.

Advertisers join chorus of critics

Zuckerberg did not mention the advertising boycott, even as several big brands said they would halt spending on the platform.

The anti-Facebook campaign, dubbed “Stop Hate for Profit,” is being organized by civil rights groups, including the Anti-Defamation League, the NAACP and Color of Change. They are urging brands to halt Facebook advertising in the month of July, saying the social network profits off bigotry, racism and violence. Facebook brought in nearly $70 billion in advertising revenue last year.

Shortly before Zuckerberg spoke, Unilever, the maker of household brands including Dove soap and Hellmann’s mayonnaise, said it would stop advertising on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in the U.S. through the end of the year. The company, which is one of the world’s biggest marketing spenders, cited a need to end divisiveness and hate speech during a polarized election season.

“Continuing to advertise on these platforms at this time would not add value to people and society,” Unilever said in a statement. The announcement sent both social networks’ shares lower on Friday, with Facebook closing down 8.3% and Twitter shares falling 7.4%.

Not long after Zuckerberg’s livestream, Coca-Cola and Hershey said they, too, were pulling back.

Coca-Cola is pausing “paid advertising on all social media platforms globally for a least 30 days,” it said in a statement. “We will take this time to reassess our advertising standards and policies to determine whether revisions are needed internally, and what more we should expect of our social media partners to rid the platforms of hate, violence and inappropriate content. We will let them know we expect greater accountability, action and transparency from them.”

Hershey’s chief marketing officer, Jill Baskin, said the chocolate maker is joining the July boycott of Facebook and cutting its ad spending on the social network by a third for the rest of 2020. She said Hershey had told Facebook it was “unhappy with their stance on hate speech” earlier in June.

“We do not believe that Facebook is effectively managing violent and divisive speech on their platform. Despite repeated assertions by Facebook to take action, we have not seen meaningful change,” she said.

Sarah Personette, Twitter’s vice president for global client solutions, said in a statement: “We have developed policies and platform capabilities designed to protect and serve the public conversation, and as always, are committed to amplifying voices from underrepresented communities and marginalized groups. We are respectful of our partners’ decisions and will continue to work and communicate closely with them during this time.”

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