Civil Rights Groups Urge Large Facebook Advertisers to Boycott the Platform in July

#StopHateForProfit wants to curb the spread of hate and misinformation

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Facebook totaled nearly $70 billion in ad revenue last year. #StopHateForProfit
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Key insight:

Six civil rights groups have organized a social media boycott effort against Facebook, calling on media buyers, planners and brands to stop advertising next month unless the social network takes steps to curb the proliferation of hate on its platform.

The group was formed by the Anti-Defamation League, Color of Change, Common Sense Media, Free Press, the NAACP and Sleeping Giants, and is spreading its cause under the hashtag #StopHateForProfit.

Facebook did not immediately return a request for comment.

The effort is the latest attempt to draw advertisers away from the platform, after industry leaders (anonymously) raised the issue last week. Think tanks, former vice president (and current candidate for the Democratic nomination for president) Joe Biden and Facebook’s own employees have publicly pressured the organization to reform its content moderation policies.

The civil rights organizations are calling for Facebook to stop generating ad revenue from what they consider hateful content and to use some of the $69.7 billion in last year’s ad revenue to provide support for victims of racism and hate, and to better police private groups on its platform.

“Facebook has refused to stop prioritizing profits over the well-being of our society, but advertisers can, which is why we are urging companies to take a pause from spending on Facebook ads until it makes common sense changes on the platform that protect our children, our democracy and social justice in this country,” said James P. Steyer, founder and CEO of media literacy nonprofit Common Sense, in a statement.

The group further wants Facebook to:

  • Create a separate moderation pipeline for users targeted due to race, religion, ethnicity, gender or sex, in which experts on various forms of identity-based hate are included in the process
  • Establish an opportunity for victims of hate or harassment on the platform to speak with live Facebook employees
  • Release data on identity-based hate on its platform and the actions it has taken to address it
  • Automatically remove ads labeled as misinformation or hateful across Facebook’s family of applications (this is currently handled through a mix of machine learning and human moderation)
  • Tell advertisers how often their ads were shown next to harmful content and issue refunds
  • Install a Facebook-affiliated moderator in groups with over 150 members and automatically flag hateful content in those groups for review.

As evidence of Facebook’s inaction against harmful content, the group pointed to the social network’s failure to prevent content that has incited violence against Black Lives Matter protesters (including from President Donald Trump); discriminatory targeting for housing, employment and credit ads; failure to include Holocaust denial as a form of hate; and failure to curb misinformation used in voter suppression efforts.

Those actions will “upend the integrity of our elections as we head into 2020,” NAACP president and CEO Derrick Johnson said in a statement.

The group also noted that Facebook designated Breitbart News Network as a trusted news source and added The Daily Caller as a third-party fact-checker, despite both media outlets having worked with white nationalists and neo-Nazis.

Answering a request for comment, a Breitbart spokesperson called the efforts an attempt to “silence conservative media.” The Daily Caller didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.