Facebook will continue to face an ad boycott after rights groups leaders called for its extension Tuesday, following their virtual meeting with top-level executives, including CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg. MSNBC reported that the rights groups came away from the meeting skeptical of Facebook’s commitment to stop hate speech and racism. These groups had also launched the “Stop Hate for Profit” campaign weeks before, in light of the nationwide protests against police brutality. Over 900 companies, including Coca-Cola and Starbucks, pulled their ads from Facebook, in support of the initiative.
In an email to Gizmodo, Stop Hate for Profit said that Facebook was not serious about adopting any of their recommendations. The company considered “hiring a civil rights position,” but refused to hire a C-suite level executive for the task. After that, Facebook ignored all of the campaign’s other recommendations. These included actively deleting hate groups and starting a third-party audit of the company’s anti-hate and fake news policies. Immediately after the meeting, the campaign’s leaders blasted Facebook to the media.
Rashad Robinson, the president of Color of Change, told CNN that the “meeting we just left was a disappointment,” and that Facebook went in expecting praise for just showing up. Other groups also said Facebook was only serious about fixing public relations damage and not social issues. Jessica Gonzalez, co-CEO of media activist group Free Press, also told CNN that Facebook just repeated the “same old talking points” while ignoring all of their demands. In a statement to MSNBC, the chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Jonathan Greenblatt said he expects the boycott to “grow” and to “get more global.” He added the boycott will not stop “until we get the answers I think we are looking for.”
On the other hand, Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone told the media of their gratitude for the meeting with the Stop Hate for Profit organizers. Stone also affirmed Facebook’s commitment to work together with stakeholders to engage with social issues. In a Facebook post, Sheryl Sandberg also wrote that they were publishing the final report of their “independent civil rights audit” a day after the meeting. She repeated that Facebook knows their social responsibility, and will take steps to fulfill it. However, Sandberg also noted that Facebook has no plans of listening to its advertisers. “We are not outsourcing civil rights to our advertisers,” she said.
While the ad boycott has barely made a dent in Facebook’s ad revenue valued at more than $70 billion, it has become a public relations nightmare. At the heels of the boycott were public resignations by staff and increased political pressure. Zuckerberg has also drawn criticism earlier for doubling down on his refusal to delete fake news and violent threats from Facebook. President Donald Trump had repeatedly threatened the protesters with violence on social media.