With more than 400 brands committing to a Facebook boycott, the social giant is struggling to explain its position on hateful and hostile content.
“Facebook does not profit from hate,” Nick Clegg, the company’s vice president of global affairs and communications, writes in a newly published letter. “There is no incentive for us to do anything but remove it.”
Clegg also insisted Facebook takes a “zero tolerance approach” to hateful posts on Facebook and Instagram.
That claim might come as a surprise to critics who have taken issue with Facebook’s unwillingness to rein in President Trump’s more inflammatory posts.
Cofounder-CEO Mark Zuckerberg originally argued that letting the President bypass Facebook’s standard content policies was best, “because ultimately, accountability for those in positions of power can only happen when their speech is scrutinized out in the open.”
Last week, however, Zuckerberg said Facebook would soon begin labeling posts from influential figures that violate its content policies, and no longer allow “newsworthiness exemptions” for posts from public figures that incite violence or suppress voting.
Under these new terms, Trump most likely would not have been allowed to use his Facebook account to endorse the shooting of people looting businesses in response to the killing of George Floyd last month.
However, Clegg was unclear about Facebook’s current position on Trump’s posts.
“We understand that many of our critics are angry about the inflammatory rhetoric President Trump has posted on our platform and others, and want us to be more aggressive in removing his speech,” he admitted in his Wednesday post.
Yet, seemingly sidestepping the issue of Facebook’s content policy, Clegg suggested that people hold the President accountable on Election Day.
“As a former politician myself, I know the only way to hold the powerful to account is ultimately through the ballot box,” he said. (Clegg formerly served as the head of a liberal political party in the United Kingdom.)
Trying to appease advertisers, Facebook also said this week it was enlisting the help of the Media Rating Council (MRC) to evaluate its partner and content monetization policies, and the brand-safety controls it makes available to advertisers.
According to a report in Reuters, Facebook executives also met with top brand partners on Tuesday in an effort to avoid the boycott. Yet, largely under the banner of the #StopHateForProfit campaign, the number of brands vowing to temporarily suspect advertising on Facebook and Instagram continues to grow.
Scheduled to begin on Wednesday, most brands participating in the boycott have committed to suspending U.S. advertising on Facebook for a month. Specific plans vary by advertiser. Unilever, for one, is suspending all U.S. advertising Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for the rest of the year.