'Deadly Consequences' of Zuckerberg's Decision to 'Profit From Hate' Have Not Been Addressed, Critics Say

The organizers of a major Facebook advertising boycott have vowed to continue their campaign, criticizing the response from Mark Zuckerberg.

In a new joint statement published today, the coalition of civil rights groups behind the movement accused the Facebook boss of failing to address the "deadly consequences of his choice to profit from hate" and pledged that it will "not go away."

The campaign—called Stop Hate for Profit—is led by the Anti Defamation League and rights organizations including Color of Change, NAACP and Sleeping Giants.

They allege Facebook values profits over trying to stop the spread of hate content and misinformation; and aim to target Facebook's main source of revenue: ads.

The call to arms gained some serious traction in June, with brands including Coca-Cola, Adidas, Unilever, Ford, Best Buy, Verizon, Starbucks, Lego, Ben and Jerry's and Diageo temporarily pulling their ad spending from the social network this month.

The anti-hate movement was sparked amid nationwide Black Lives Matter protests that had erupted across the world following the killing of George Floyd on May 25, and came as Facebook was facing criticism for its handling of a controversial post by President Donald Trump that appeared to threaten violence on citizens taking to the streets.

For his part, Zuckerberg did not seem too concerned about the ad boycott, telling staff that those ditching the platform would "be back on the platform soon enough."

Now, as July comes to an end, the Stop Hate for Profit team is aiming to breathe fresh life into the campaign, renewing criticism of Zuckerberg and his tech empire.

"To be clear, Mr. Zuckerberg has not yet approached the type of meaningful action that we want to see," the joint statement said, published online today.

"Mr. Zuckerberg treats meetings and dialogue as outcomes. He puts more effort into obfuscation, lobbying, and distribution of misleading talking points than seriously addressing the deadly consequences of his choice to profit from hate."

The release continued: "We called for a Facebook ad pause for the month of July as the mobilization for the Stop Hate for Profit movement. Many companies, frustrated by Facebook's unwillingness to address their concerns, have already said they are not ready to return to Facebook's platforms. We applaud them for that decision."

The campaign said the campaign's successes had been "unmistakable," claiming that it attracted support from more than 1,100 companies, and had forced some concessions from the tech giant, including the release of a long-awaited civil rights audit.

That often-damning assessment documented how the site had made "painful decisions with real world consequences that are serious setbacks for civil rights." Facebook did later agree to create a new senior job role that will now oversee civil rights.

Yesterday, Zuckerberg's battles continued as he faced a congressional antitrust hearing alongside his counterparts from Apple, Google and Amazon.

Zuckerberg was questioned about Facebook's acquisition of Instagram, with new emails showing conversations with chief financial officer David Ebersman detailing his thinking about various ways to disrupt smaller businesses by buying them out.

"Facebook saw Instagram as a threat that could potentially siphon business away from Facebook," Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) said during the Wednesday afternoon hearing.
"And so rather than compete with it, Facebook bought it. This is exactly the type of anti-competitive acquisition that the antitrust laws were designed to prevent."

Zuckerberg countered: "With hindsight, it probably looks obvious that Instagram would have reached the scale that it has today, but at the time it was far from obvious."

Zuckerberg told Congress that Facebook removes 89 percent of all hate speech before users see it, but the notion was criticized by ADL boss Jonathan Greenblatt on Twitter, who wrote: "Would a car company say 89 percent of their seat belts work?"

It remains to be seen how the Stop Hate for Profit campaign will evolve in the coming weeks, but the statement published today pledged that it is here to stay.

It said: "This movement will not go away until Facebook makes the reasonable changes that society wants. The ad pause in July was not a full campaign—it was a warning shot across Facebook's bow. This movement only will get bigger and broader until Facebook takes the common-sense steps necessary to mitigate the damage it causes."

Facebook has been contacted for comment by Newsweek.

Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks via video conference during the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law hearing on Online Platforms and Market Power in the Rayburn House office Building, July 29, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Mandel Ngan-Pool/Getty