Facebook announces new hate speech policies after Unilever joins advertiser boycott

The Drum 26 Jun 2020 09:20
Facebook has promised to change its policies following an advertiser revolt

Facebook has pledged to change its policies on hate speech and voter suppression after Unilever became the biggest advertiser yet to join a growing revolt against the platform.

The US arm of the household goods giant today added its name to 100 fellow advertisers – including Verizon, The North Face and Ben & Jerry’s – that have boycotted the social network over its handling of content.

It promised to stop spending on the platform for the rest of the year, saying in a statement: "Given our Responsibility Framework and the polarised atmosphere in the US, 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 US

"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."

One of the biggest advertisers in the world, Unilever spent $8.2bn on marketing in 2019 and Facebook’s shares closed 8.3% down following its intervention.

Actions include labelling posts that are potentially harmful and even in violation of the platform's policies but are not censored by the platform because they are deemed newsworthy.

But Zuckerberg stopped short of pledging to outright remove all divisive political material.

“Often, seeing speech from politicians is in the public interest, and in the same way that news outlets will report what a politician says, we think people should generally be able to see it for themselves on our platforms.”

The moves “are designed to address the reality of the challenges our country is facing and how they're showing up across our community,” the Facebook founder added.

"Credit where credit is due, it may not solve everything but Facebook is making changes," he wrote.

Three weeks ago, I committed to reviewing our policies ahead of the 2020 elections. That work is ongoing, but today I...

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Friday, 26 June 2020

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