Stop Hate for Profit is a campaign by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to encourage Facebook to engage in censorship against alleged white nationalists, incitement of violence, and voter suppression. After launching an advertisement in the Los Angeles Times, Stop Hate for Profit has claimed that almost 1,000 companies have agreed to stop advertising on Facebook during the month of July, though its website listed 312 boycotters as of July 7, 2020.
Representatives of the ADL and other groups involved in the campaign met with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg in early July 2020; the Facebook officials agreed to add a civil rights position to its executive team but refused to concede to Stop Hate for Profit’s demands for censorship.
Los Angeles Times Advertisement
On June 17, 2020, Stop Hate for Profit launched with an advertisement in the Los Angeles Times entitled “What would you do with $70 billion?” The ad claimed that Facebook earned ad revenue while refusing to support protests ostensibly responding to the police-involved killing of Minneapolis man George Floyd through greater censorship of content posted on its platform. In response, the ad called for companies to boycott advertising on Facebook throughout July.
Since 2016, Facebook has been refining its “fact-checking” system of news stories publicly posted by users in an effort to combat fake news. Stop Hate for Profit accused Facebook of permitting “news sources with extremist ties” to be posted without any notice or restrictions by the fact-checking system. The ad does not give examples of these news sources or describe what constitutes “extremist.”
The Stop Hate for Profit ad also criticizes Facebook for ignoring “blatant voter suppression,” refusing to “protect” black users, not “calling out” Holocaust denial, and not putting enough effort into promoting get-out-the-vote campaigns.
Following the advertisement Stop Hate for Profit claimed that 1,000 companies agreed to stop advertising on Facebook in July. A survey by the World Federation of Advertisers in late June found that almost one-third of Facebook advertisers considering abandoning the site for one month, which the left-wing British newspaper The Guardian called a “hate speech revolt.” While many companies halted advertising, such as Starbucks and Microsoft, some companies enthusiastically endorsed the boycott, with Unilever promising to stop all advertisements until November or later.
On June 26, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg addressed Stop Hate for Profit’s boycott during a video town hall meeting with Facebook employees. Zuckerberg announced new policies to ban content that expressed “hate” toward immigrants, to place further restrictions on posts which allegedly made false claims regarding voting, and to “label” incitements of violence. Further, he reaffirmed that Facebook was committed to strategic censorship to limit fake news and hate speech, and that the platform had made “real progress” in doing so.
In a letter published a few days later, Zuckerberg also promised to allow for a third-party audit of Facebook’s community standards, and to consult with the Global Alliance for Responsible Media and the Media Ratings Council on its content management systems.
However, Zuckerberg also stated that the boycotting companies made up a “small percent of our revenue” and that the company would only adjust its policies based on principle, not on revenue concerns. He also appeared to dismiss the boycotters by saying, “my guess is that all these advertisers will be back on the platform soon enough.”
After hearing Zuckerberg’s response, Stop Hate for Profit called for the boycott to extend to Europe, a sentiment endorsed by Imran Ahmed, the head of Center for Countering Digital Hate based in London.
On June 29, Stop Hate for Profit issued a list of demands for advertisers to ask of Facebook. The demands include a more rigorous third-party audit, the hiring of executives with backgrounds in civil rights, refunding advertisers whose advertisements appeared next to questionable content, updating algorithms to more accurately target supposed “hate speech,” and to ban dishonest political ads.
On July 7, Hollywood Reporter announced that Facebook executives agreed to a video meeting at an unspecified time and date with Stop Hate for Profit’s leaders to discuss the boycott. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, COO Sheryl Sandberg, and CPO Chris Cox will talk with ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, Color of Change president Rashad Robinson, and NAACP CEO Derrick Johnson. Facebook officials agreed to add a civil rights position to its executive team but refused to concede to Stop Hate for Profit’s demands for censorship.
Stop Hate for Profit lists seven left-progressive organizations as partners on its webpage and in the launch Los Angeles Times advertisement: the Anti-Defamation League, Color of Change, Common Sense Media, Free Press, the NAACP, Sleeping Giants, the League of United Latin American Citizens, Mozilla, and the National Hispanic Media Coalition.