Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has announced new content policies for the platform, including tighter restrictions on advertising and labels for ‘harmful’ posts from public figures, following an advertising boycott campaign.
Zuckerberg said in a Facebook Live video on Friday that the company would begin labeling ‘harmful’ content from politicians that remains ‘newsworthy’.
Though he did not name President Donald Trump, the policy comes in response to a campaign demanding Facebook impose tighter restrictions on ‘misinformation’ in the president’s campaign ads, and on his inflammatory posts.
Twitter has already slapped warning labels on some of the president’s tweets that it deemed abusive or threatening, and unlike Facebook, Twitter banned all political campaign ads.
Zuckerberg slammed the move when Twitter first labeled a Trump tweet, saying it wasn’t up to social media companies to be the ‘arbiters of truth’ – but the Facebook CEO appears to have had a change of heart following the punishing advertiser boycott.
‘We will soon start labeling some of the content we leave up because it is deemed newsworthy, so people can know when this is the case,’ Zuckerberg said in the livestream.
Zuckerberg said in a Facebook Live video on Friday that the company would begin labeling ‘harmful’ content from politicians that remains ‘newsworthy’
‘We’ll allow people to share this content to condemn it, just like we do with other problematic content, because this is an important part of how we discuss what’s acceptable in our society – but we’ll add a prompt to tell people that the content they’re sharing may violate our policies,’ he continued.
Zuckerberg also announced new policies cracking down on hateful language in ads, as well as guidelines on voting information.
‘We already restrict certain types of content in ads that we allow in regular posts, but we want to do more to prohibit the kind of divisive and inflammatory language that has been used to sow discord,’ Zuckerberg said.
‘So today we’re prohibiting a wider category of hateful content in ads. Specifically, we’re expanding our ads policy to prohibit claims that people from a specific race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, caste, sexual orientation, gender identity or immigration status are a threat to the physical safety, health or survival of others,’ he said.
‘We’re also expanding our policies to better protect immigrants, migrants, refugees and asylum seekers from ads suggesting these groups are inferior or expressing contempt, dismissal or disgust directed at them,’ he continued.
It follows an advertiser boycott that grew rapidly over the past week, organized by activists demanding Facebook impose greater restrictions on hate speech and misinformation. Honda and Unilver were the latest large companies to join the boycott.
However, Zuckerberg did not directly address the boycott in his address. At least some of the boycott organizers said that Zuckerberg’s new policies were inadequate.
‘Zuckerberg’s address was 11 minutes of wasted opportunity to commit to change,’ tweeted Rashad Robinson, president of Color of Change, an organizer of the ‘Stop Hate For Profit’ boycott campaign.
‘I hope companies advertising on Facebook were watching – if they want to put their money where their mouth is on racial justice, then it’s time to #StopHateForProfit,’ Robinson added.
‘Today, Mark Zuckerberg responded with small changes that don’t adequately address #hate & misinformation,’ tweeted Johnathan Greenblatt, president of the Anti-Defamation League, a key backer of the boycott.
Greenblatt said that if Facebook were ‘serious’, they would have enacted the activists’ detailed list of demands.
Unilever said on Friday it will stop advertising on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in the United States for the rest of the year, citing ‘divisiveness and hate speech during this polarized election period in the U.S.’
The consumer goods company, which owns brands like Dove Soap and Lipton tea, joins a growing advertising boycott against Facebook as part of the ‘Stop Hate for Profit’ campaign started by U.S. activists after the death of George Floyd.
The effort called on Facebook, which owns Instagram, to do more to stop hate speech, and criticized the company for not doing more to restrict posts and campaign ads from President Donald Trump.
Unilever subsidiary Ben & Jerry’s, which has an independent board, previously announced it would join the boycott on Facebook earlier this week, possibly putting pressure on the parent company headquartered in London, which has an annual global advertising budget of nearly $8 billion.
Unilever said on Friday it will stop advertising on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in the United States for 2020
Companies that have joined Facebook ad boycott
- Unilever PLC
- Verizon Communications
- Eddie Bauer
- Eileen Fisher
- Ben & Jerry’s
- North Face
- Rakuten Viber
- Magnolia Pictures
- Goodby Silverstein
‘Continuing to advertise on these platforms at this time would not add value to people and society. We will be monitoring ongoing and will revisit our current position if necessary,’ Unilever said in a statement.
The company, which is based in the Netherlands and Britain, joins a raft of other companies halting advertising on online platforms.
Facebook in particular has been the target of an escalating movement to siphon away advertising dollars in a bid to pressure the social media-giant to do more to prevent racist and violent content from being shared on its platform.
‘We have decided that starting now through at least the end of the year, we will not run brand advertising in social media newsfeed platforms Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in the U.S.,’ Unilever said.
On Thursday, Verizon joined others in the Facebook boycott.
Sarah Personette, vice president of global client solutions at Twitter, said the company’s ‘mission is to serve the public conversation and ensure Twitter is a place where people can make human connections, seek and receive authentic and credible information, and express themselves freely and safely.’
She added that Twitter is ‘respectful of our partners´ decisions and will continue to work and communicate closely with them during this time.’
Shares in Facebook, which is based in Menlo Park, California, fell about 7 percent Friday. San Francisco-based Twitter’s shares were also off about 7 percent.
The #StopHateForProfit campaign comes as Facebook faces growing pressure over its hands-off approach to misinformation and inflammatory posts, including from Trump.
The social media company made an estimated $70 billion annually from ads, the coalition claimed in a statement on the ADL website.
The campaign has criticized Zuckerberg’s decision to not moderate the president, after the CEO again defended his decision not to limit Trump’s often controversial, incendiary and inaccurate posts.
Twitter’s decision in May to hide one of Trump’s tweets for ‘glorifying violence’ exposed turmoil at Facebook, with employees rebelling against Zuckerberg’s refusal to sanction false or inflammatory posts by the president.
Facebook last week said it removed ads by Trump’s re-election campaign that contained a symbol used in Nazi Germany for political prisoners, a move welcomed by rights activists.
The activists called on Facebook to crack down harder on Trump and his campaign as the November election looms.
‘It is clear that Facebook and its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, are no longer simply negligent, but in fact, complacent in the spread of misinformation, despite the irreversible damage to our democracy,’ the NAACP said in a tweet.
The coalition criticized Zuckerberg’s decision late last month to leave up a particularly inflammatory Trump post, which stated in part: ‘When the looting starts, the shooting starts’. Twitter hid the same message behind a warning that said the post ‘incited violence’.
Several Facebook employees staged a ‘virtual walkout’ over Zuckerberg’s decision.
The Facebook co-founder then held a conference call with civil rights leaders who condemned him for failing to remove the post.
In a subsequent statement, Rashad Robinson of Color of Change, Vanita Gupta of the Leadership Conference and Sherrilyn Ifill of LDF said: ‘He [Zuckerberg] did not demonstrate understanding of historic or modern-day voter suppression and he refuses to acknowledge how Facebook is facilitating Trump’s call for violence against protesters. Mark is setting a very dangerous precedent for other voices who would say similar harmful things on Facebook.’