Facebook Advertisers Boycott, Demand Changes

More than 600 companies say they won’t advertise on Facebook and its sister firm, Instagram, in July, as part of a campaign called Stop Hate for Profit. The goal? Force Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to address his firm’s negative effects on society, says Jim Steyer, chief executive and founder of Common Sense Media, a children’s media education non-profit, and one of the boycott’s backers. “They are amplifying hate speech, racist messages, white supremacy messages, all sorts of misinformation and dishonest political advertising,” said Steyer. “So, we asked the major advertisers of America to pause their advertising on the platform for at least a month.”Just weeks ago, Steyer joined with organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League, the NAACP and Color of Change to FILE – Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies at a House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington.There’s no shortage of ideas of how to fix Facebook. Some call for regulations. Others say break up the company and make Zuckerberg, who has controlling shares in the firm, answerable to a board. Another idea: Hire ethicists to help with decision-making and give them power in the organization, says Don Heider, executive director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University. “I don’t think there’s any one core set of values,” he said. “I wish there was. And I wish it was some sense of trying to help the common good or trying to protect human rights or something that really helped them be a guiding principle for the company.” Facebook says it doesn’t tolerate hate speech and points to its automated system to remove inflammatory ads before users see them.Label content that breaks rulesRecently, the firm agreed to an external audit of how it is doing to make sure advertisers do not appear next to harmful messages, one of the boycott organizer’s demands. Facebook also said it would label content that breaks its rules, even those posted by an elected official. And it will remove posts that Facebook thinks may lead to violence or deprive people’s right to vote. These are important steps. But some critics argue it’s not enough.“Yes, they can change,” said Eisenstat. “It’s a question of whether they want to. Can they change as long as they continue to pursue being the biggest most dominant company in the world that absolutely has the monopoly over all conversations how we get our content, how we connect with people? Possibly not.”  The boycott organizers say their campaign is going global. But it will take time before they know if their efforts have a lasting effect.      

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