Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reflected on the growing ad boycott against his company in a video town hall last Friday, telling employees that his “guess is that all these advertisers will be back on the platform soon enough,” according to a transcript of the meeting acquired by The Information.
“We’re not gonna change our policies or approach on anything because of a threat to a small percent of our revenue, or to any percent of our revenue,” he said, according The Information.
A Facebook spokesperson told FOX Business that the company won’t cave to an advertising boycott.
“We take these matters very seriously and respect the feedback from our partners. We’re making real progress keeping hate speech off our platform, and we don't benefit from this kind of content,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement to FOX Business. “But as we've said, we make policy changes based on principles, not revenue pressures."
This is far from the first time that Zuckerberg has expressed dismay at calls for increased censorship.
“Increasingly, we're getting called to censor a lot of different kinds of content that makes me really uncomfortable. I think it kind of feels like the list of things that you are not allowed to say socially keeps on growing. And I'm not really okay with that,” he said in January at the Silicon Slopes Tech Summit. “We're going to take down the content that's really harmful, but the line needs to be held at some point.”
The "Stop Hate for Profit" campaign began last month to pressure Facebook to change its policies surrounding hate speech. Hundreds of companies have gotten onboard in the last two weeks and the advertising boycott officially started Wednesday.
Most of the ire is focused on multiple posts by President Trump that Facebook has so far refused to censor, even though other social media platforms like Twitter have flagged them. In late May, Trump wrote “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” More recently, he said that if people try to set up an autonomous zone in Washington, D.C., they will be met with "serious force."
Facebook announced a change in policy Friday, saying they will now flag political content that violates their policies as "newsworthy" and leave it up if the “the public interest value outweighs the risk of harm.”
But none of Trump’s comments on Facebook so far would have been flagged under this new policy because Facebook has an exception for the “discussion around state use of force.”
"Nothing would be labeled newsworthy because the newsworthy label only applies to content that violates our policies, and none of his past posts violate our policy,” a Facebook spokesperson told FOX Business Friday.
“Stop Hate for Profit” said that Facebook’s policy updates are insufficient.
“Posts from someone ‘newsworthy’ that call for violence will be labeled - but they will still be allowed despite the clear harm that they may pose,” the group wrote in an update on Monday.
Reuters reported this week that Zuckerberg has agreed to meet with civil rights groups soon, but it sounds like he has already decided that Facebook won’t compromise.
“I tend to think that if someone goes out there and threatens you to do something, that actually kind of puts you in a box where in some ways it’s even harder to do what they want because now it looks like you’re capitulating, and that sets up bad long-term incentives for others to do that [to you] as well,” he said Friday, according to The Information.
It’s unclear how much the boycott will even hurt Facebook’s bottom line. The social media giant says there are seven million active advertisers on the platform, and there are well under 1,000 companies who are currently part of the boycott. The company collected $69.7 billion in advertising revenue in 2019.