Facebook has announced that it will ban a “wider category of hateful content” – including racial and discriminatory claims – in advertisements on its platform. This comes in the wake of the social network facing a increasing boycott by advertisers such as Unilever and Honda, and calls by activists for tougher penalties on content that they say promotes discrimination, hatred or violence.
Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg said last Friday that the platform will also add tags to “newsworthy” posts that violate platform rules, echoing moves by Twitter to label similar posts by United States President Donald Trump. “We’re expanding our ads policy to prohibit claims that people from a specific race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, caste, sexual orientation, gender identity or immigration status are a threat to the physical safety, health or survival of others. We’re also expanding our policies to better protect immigrants, migrants, refugees and asylum seekers from ads suggesting these groups are inferior or expressing contempt, dismissal or disgust directed at them.,” said Zuckerberg on his Facebook page.
The platform would allow people to share “newsworthy” content to condemn it, he said, “just like we do with other problematic content, because this is an important part of how we discuss what’s acceptable in our society”.
“We’ll add a prompt to tell people that the content they’re sharing may violate our policies.”
THIS. IS. BIG.@ProcterGamble is making moves to avoid outlets and platforms that don’t take action on hate.
— Sleeping Giants (@slpng_giants) June 24, 2020
Zuckerberg said the “newsworthy” exemption normally occurs “a handful of times a year,” when Facebook decides to leave up a message that would ordinarily be removed for rule violations. This move also comes in the wake of civil unrest following the death of African-American George Floyd.
A coalition which includes the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has been urging companies to stop advertising on Facebook, using the #StopHateForProfit hashtag. At the same time, Trump and his allies claim platforms like Facebook and Twitter display a bias against conservatives.
…..But should be much higher than that if Twitter wasn’t playing their political games. No wonder Congress wants to get involved – and they should. Must be more, and fairer, companies to get out the WORD!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 23, 2019
Unilever said it would stop advertising on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in the US until the end of 2020 due to the “polarised election period”. Former Unilever CEO Paul Polman has called on Zuckerberg to address growing advertiser dissatisfaction with hate speech on the platform,, saying that Facebook may be headed down the same path of “dinosaurs” if it doesn’t. “It’s a major wake-up call for Facebook. I think they’ll rally to the challenge. If they don’t, we’ll visit them soon in the graveyard of dinosaurs,” said Polman on Yahoo Finance’s The First Trade.
American Honda said it would halt ads on Facebook in July, “choosing to stand with people united against hate and racism”. They join a list that includes United States telecommunications giant Verizon and sporting goods makers Patagonia, North Face and REI.