Facebook responds as ad boycott begins: Platform 'does not profit from hate'

Major companies began pulling ads from the platform Wednesday

Facebook Vice President of Global Affairs Nick Clegg published an open letter Wednesday saying the social media platform "does not profit from hate."

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The letter comes as major companies including Coca-Cola, Ford, Microsoft and most recently, Lego, announced that they would pull ads from Facebook and its subsidiary Instagram to boycott hate speech on the platform starting Wednesday.

"I want to be unambiguous: Facebook does not profit from hate. Billions of people use Facebook and Instagram because they have good experiences — they don't want to see hateful content, our advertisers don't want to see it, and we don't want to see it. There is no incentive for us to do anything but remove it," Clegg wrote.

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Clegg said "everything that is good, bad and ugly in our societies will find expression on our platform," which has more than 3 billion active users.

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Activist groups including the ADL, NAACP and more are urging major companies to pull ads from Facebook as part of their #StopHateForProfit campaign. The groups allege that Facebook turns a "blind eye to voter suppression" and gives white supremacists a place to spread hate speech.

But Clegg argued in the letter that Facebook removes hate speech faster than YouTube and Twitter.

"A recent European Commission report found that Facebook assessed 95.7 [percent] of hate speech reports in less than 24 hours, faster than YouTube and Twitter. Last month, we reported that we find nearly 90 [percent] of the hate speech we remove before someone reports it — up from 24 [percent] little over two years ago," Clegg wrote.

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Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has come under fire for promoting the idea of free speech and for not taking action against posts from President Trump that Twitter decided to label.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a House Financial Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

"We have a different policy than, I think, Twitter on this," Zuckerberg said in a May 27 interview with Fox News. "I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn't be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online. In general, private companies probably shouldn't be – especially these platform companies – shouldn't be in the position of doing that.”

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Facebook has since updated its policies, saying in a June 26 blog post that the website will start labeling content it previously would not have flagged if they were deemed "newsworthy," including posts from politicians.

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Clegg added in his letter that Facebook still errs "on the side of free expression because, ultimately, the best way to counter hurtful, divisive, offensive speech, is more speech. Exposing it to sunlight is better than hiding it in the shadows."