Facebook Boycott Leader Says Zuckerberg Is an 'Arrogant' Billionaire

The president of a group leading the Facebook ad boycott has said Mark Zuckerberg's stance on freedom of expression has been "arrogant."

Rashad Robinson, who spearheads the civil rights organization Color of Change, one of groups that started the "Stop Hate for Profit" campaign last month, spoke out about the social media boss this week ahead of a meeting with Facebook executives.

Zuckerberg previously said his website's policies are based around facilitating as much freedom of expression as possible, but the founder and CEO was widely-criticized last month after failing to remove a controversial post by president Trump.

The advertising boycott soon followed, quickly growing to include hundreds of brands such as Starbucks, Adidas, Coca-Cola, Unilever, Verizon and more.

Robinson told The Guardian the campaign was targeting the profits and the stock price. Facebook currently makes roughly 98 percent of its revenue through ads.

"We have a list of 10 full demands. One is Facebook needs civil rights expertise in [its] C-suite," he told the newspaper. "They continue to make policy and products without any kind of understanding of voter suppression, of suppression of voices."

"Mark Zuckerberg spends his time lecturing us on freedom of expression. It's such an arrogant thing for a billionaire to tell Black activists about freedom of expression, as if the fight for social change and progress that Black people have isn't one of the baselines of freedom of expression. Part of that freedom is ensuring that our voices can still be heard in the face of powerful unchecked forces," he added.

The ad boycott movement was launched by a coalition of civil rights groups—ADL, the NAACP, Sleeping Giants, Color Of Change, Free Press and Common Sense.

They have lambasted the social network for failing to stop the spread of hate speech, extremism and misinformation. The movement quickly spread to Twitter, as brands decided to halt their ad spending to evaluate relationships and standards.

Robinson's Color of Change is one of three rights groups scheduled to virtually talk with Facebook executives Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg and Chris Cox today.

The meeting comes after Zuckerberg told employees during a town hall last week that Facebook would not change as a result of pressure from advertisers.

"We're not gonna change our policies... because of a threat to a small percent of our revenue, or to any percent of our revenue," he said, according to The Information. "My guess is that all these advertisers will be back on the platform soon enough."

Tying to calm the storm, Nick Clegg, VP of global affairs and communications, said in a blog last week that the platform does not benefit from hate speech.

"Billions of people use Facebook and Instagram because they have good experiences—they don't want to see hateful content, our advertisers don't want to see it, and we don't want to see it. There is no incentive for us to do anything but remove it," he wrote.

Facebook said in an earlier statement that it would open itself up to a "civil rights audit" but Robinson did not appear convinced ahead of the face-to-face with Zuckerberg.

"Facebook shouldn't just consider civil rights once a month or when advertisers pull funding," the Color of Change president tweeted on Monday.

"We've heard FB tout changes before. What we've seen is that being in the good graces of those in power comes at the cost of transparency, integrity [and] user safety.

"Stop Hate for Profit started because we've had enough. FB has refused to invest in civil rights infrastructure, turned a blind eye to disinformation and made white nationalists trusted fact checkers. They have our demands. Releasing the audit... won't distract us."

#StopHateForProfit started because we’ve had enough. FB has refused to invest in civil rights infrastructure, turned a blind eye to disinformation and made white nationalists "trusted fact checkers.” They have our demands. Releasing the audit we called for won't distract us.

— Rashad Robinson (@rashadrobinson) July 6, 2020

The graphic below, provided by Statista, shows the scope of the Stop Hate for Profit advertising boycott on Facebook so far, based on the biggest spenders from 2018.

Stop Hate Profit Facebook Statista
Advertising heavyweights join Facebook ad boycott. Statista