Facebook frustrates advertising boycott leaders with lack of concessions

Civil rights leaders said Facebook hasn't agreed to any of their 10 demands

Civil rights leaders said they left a meeting with top Facebook executives Tuesday disappointed in the company’s lack of commitments and will continue their “Stop Hate for Profit” advertising boycott that nearly 1,000 companies have joined.

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, COO Sheryl Sandberg, CPO Chris Cox and other executives met with the boycott leaders for nearly an hour virtually, but the group said afterward that Facebook is refusing to agree to any of the 10 demands their movement has put forward.

“The meeting was, again, long on time, but short on commitments,” Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt told reporters after the meeting. “What we heard them say is that they are on a journey, and that they think they are doing better, but to be frank, as I’ve said before, in our opinion, there is no journey on fighting hate.”

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The group’s demands include hiring a C-suite executive to focus on civil rights, submitting to regular third-party audits and flagging hateful content in private groups. The campaign said after the meeting that the only demand Facebook tried to address was hiring a civil rights position, but it didn’t even fully agree to that demand.

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“I’m deeply disappointed that Facebook still refuses to hold itself accountable to its users, its advertisers and society at large,” Free Press Co-CEO Jessica J. González said in a statement after the meeting. “I was hoping to see deep humility and reflection about the outsized role that Facebook plays in shaping beliefs, opinions and behavior, and the many harms it’s caused and facilitated in real life. Instead we saw more dialogue and no action.”

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Sandberg said in a Facebook post Tuesday morning that “Facebook has to get better at finding and removing hateful content.” She said the company is committed to making changes but not due to any advertising boycotts.

“We are making changes – not for financial reasons or advertiser pressure, but because it is the right thing to do,” Sandberg wrote.

Facebook did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

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Though “Stop Hate for Profit” hasn’t gotten the results it wants yet, the campaign said it will press forward with the boycott and touted the strength of the nearly 1,000 companies who have gotten on board.

“You’ve got some of the most iconic brands in the world – Starbucks, Unilever, Diageo, Ford, Honda, Heineken. I mean, the list has grown every day. You’ve got lots of small to medium sized businesses. You’ve got global NGOs, you’ve got little non-profit groups,” Greenblatt said Tuesday. “I believe this campaign will continue to grow. It will get more global. It will get more intense until we get the answers that I think we are looking for.”

It's unclear how much the boycott has eaten into Facebook's $70 billion in annual advertising revenue so far. The social media giant said last year that it has more than seven million active advertisers on its platform.

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