Facebook on Monday said that it would submit itself to an audit on how it controls hate speech.
The move comes amidst concerns of major advertisers, namely Unilever and Starbucks, considering pulling out paid advertisements from Facebook over its refusal to deal with the spread of hateful speeches on its platform.
“Continuing to advertise on these platforms at this time would not add value to people and society,” Unilever said in a statement. “We will be monitoring ongoing and will revisit our current position if necessary.”
In a blog post posted last Sunday titled “Creating Welcoming and Inclusive Online Communities,” Starbucks announced it would stop all advertising on social media platforms in July.
“We will pause advertising on all social media platforms while we continue discussions internally, with our media partners and with civil rights organizations in the effort to stop the spread of hate speech,” the company wrote.
These major advertisers have signed on the “Stop Hate for Profit” campaign started by U.S. civil rights groups, which includes the Anti-Defamation League, NAACP, and Color of Change after the death of George Floyd.
This campaign is to encourage brands to stop advertising their ads on Facebook in July 2020 so as to pressurize the social media platform to control hate speeches, racism, as well as posts that share false information on their platforms.
“Let’s send Facebook a powerful message: Your profits will never be worth promoting hate, bigotry, racism, antisemitism, and violence,” the website for the Stop Hate for Profit campaign, says.
Facebook has now hired the Media Rating Council (MRC), a U.S. based non-profit organization that manages accreditation for media research and rating purposes. The council will conduct the audit, evaluate how it defends advertisers from appearing next to harmful content, as well as assess the accuracy of Facebook’s reporting in specific regions.
When the audit will take place scope and what will the scope of the audit is not finalized yet, Facebook said.
On Tuesday, Facebook hosted a call with advertisers, which included Carolyn Everson, Facebook’s Vice President of Global Marketing Solutions, Guy Rosen, Vice President of Integrity, and Neil Potts, Public Policy Director.
The social media giant executives informed them that a new data point will be included regarding hate speech in its Community Standards Enforcement Report, which provides information as to how the firm takes down content that violates policy, said Barry Lowenthal, Chief Executive of ad agency The Media Kitchen, who was present during the call.
Lowenthal said while he believed Facebook has taken several steps to clamp down on hate speech, the problem has become so large that it may require drastic measures to fix it.
“Maybe they should hit pause on the platform entirely,” Lowenthal said, whose agency has clients like Vanguard and Loews Hotels. “How much more can society handle?”
A Facebook company spokesperson said in a statement: “We invest billions of dollars each year to keep our community safe and continuously work with outside experts to review and update our policies. We’ve opened ourselves up to a civil rights audit, and we have banned 250 white supremacist organisations from Facebook and Instagram.
“The investments we have made in AI mean that we find nearly 90 percent of hate speech we action before users report it to us, while a recent EU report found Facebook assessed more hate speech reports in 24 hours than Twitter and YouTube. We know we have more work to do, and we’ll continue to work with civil rights groups, GARM, and other experts to develop even more tools, technology, and policies to continue this fight.”