There is no room for racism in the world: with these words, contained in a declaration of the CEO James Quincey, Coca Cola has announced that it has joined the boycott of Instagram and Facebook promoted by the Stop Hate for Profit campaign. Mark Zuckerberg’s social media are accused of not doing enough to counter racist content and hate speech. The boycott aims to convince social giants to invest more in content moderation and control activities. We ask all companies to be in solidarity with the American values of freedom, equality and justice and not to advertise on Facebook in July, the official website of the campaign reads, whose slogan Hit pause on hate (“Pause hatred”, editor’s note). In addition to Coca Cola they joined Unilever and Verizon, in addition to brands like Ben and Jerry’s, Patagonia and North Face. Everyone has pledged to stop advertising on social media for at least a month starting July 1st.
The idea behind the boycott
The basic idea of the simple boycott: the overwhelming majority of Facebook and Instagram’s revenue comes from the adverts for a fee that companies buy to reach the large audience of social users (over 2 billion). As an example, Facebook made money in 2019 $ 70.7 billion, of which 69.6 through advertisements. So, according to the promoters of the boycott, the best way to achieve change is to leverage advertising revenues. Stop Hate for Profit’s hope is to persuade enough companies to join the boycott, generating a budget hole significant enough to push Zuckerberg to act more decisively.
The criticisms: The campaign is not needed, the companies have not suspended investments 100%
The strategy on paper does not make a wrinkle, but has already generated skepticism. Yesterday the journalist Shoshana Wodinsky signed an investigation for Gizmodo in which he reveals that he has contacted the companies that first joined the boycott to ask for confirmation of their commitment: none of them confirmed that they had eliminated 100% of the advertising investments on the various platforms owned by Zuckerberg. In the article – from the eloquent title: The “Stop the hate” movement will not stop anything – we read that some of the member companies have paused the purchase of advertisement on Facebook, but not on Instagram. Others, however, have stopped their campaigns on the two social networks, but not those conducted through the Facebook Audience Network, which allows you to place advertisements targeted to Facebook users on third-party apps or websites. Finally, many have suspended investments only in the United States: in short, they continue to pay for advertising for users in other countries. The investigation was published before Coca Cola joined. But it remains crucial because it raises a far from negligible point: the boycott can only work if the companies that participate are many and above all determined to go all the way, closing all the taps of the money that flows towards the Zuckerberg platforms. Otherwise, joining the Stop The Hate campaign is likely to become just a marketing move unable to really make a difference.
The ten proposals of Stop Hate for Profit
The promoters of Stop the Hate, however, continue determined on their way, thanks to the adhesions of famous companies that have brought a lot of visibility to the initiative. On the official campaign website you can read a decalogue with ten measures which, according to the promoters, Facebook and Instagram should implement to demonstrate that they have the fight against racism and hate speech at heart. They range from the creation of team of experts to review reports related to everything related to racial discrimination the creation of automatic mechanisms capable of identifying hate content in private groups. These proposals are not enough, but they would be a start, we read on the campaign website, are things that Mark (Zuckerberg, ed.) might be working on today.
Facebook’s response, for now, merely dismisses the accusation of not doing enough against racism and hate speech. We invest billions of dollars every year to keep our community safe and we constantly work with external experts to review and update our policies, a company spokesman said, we underwent a civil rights audit and we banned 250 white supremacist organizations from Facebook and Instagram . The investments we have made in Artificial Intelligence allow us to identify almost 90% of hate speeches on which we intervene before users report them to us, while a recent European Union report found that Facebook has examined more hate speech reports in 24 hours than Twitter and YouTube. We know we still have a lot of work to do, and will continue to work with civil rights groups, Garm and other experts to develop even more tools, technologies and policies to continue this struggle, Facebook spokesman concludes.
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