July 30, 2020 — In a Wednesday hearing, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was questioned by Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., about a statement he made regarding mounting pressure from the Stop Hate for Profit Campaign, the most successful digital advertising boycott to date.
Demings cited Zuckerberg saying that Facebook was not going to change its policies or approach because of a threat to a small percentage of the company’s revenue.
“Are you too big to care?” Demings asked Zuckerberg.
Zuckerberg denied the boycott’s allegations, maintaining that Facebook didnt profit from hate and that the proliferation of hate was bad for business.
Yet in March, United Nations investigators found that Facebook played a role in spreading hate speech and normalizing mass atrocities in Myanmar.
In June, hundreds of advertisers, nonprofit organizations and individuals came together to boycott Facebook advertising.
One of those organizers was Jessica González, CEO of Free Press, who joined Sam Gill, chief program officer of the Knight Foundation, for a virtual conversation on Thursday.
“Many of our organizations have been working to stop hate, voter suppression and disinformation over Facebook for many years,” González said.
“Not too long ago we held these companies up as icons,” she continued, adding that consumer sentiment has shifted since the beginning of the pandemic.
“Today, people have more ills with social media,” she said.
According to Gonzáles, a recent survey on public opinion of tech platforms revealed that 70 percent of people think Facebook puts profit before societal good.
The survey further revealed that 55 percent of people had heard of the Stop Hate for Profit campaign and that 74 percent of those who had heard agreed with the movement.
“Many believe this should be a top priority,” González said.
When Gill asked what it was that finally moved companies to act against Facebook, Gonzáles responded that “the power of the movement for Black lives cannot be overstated.”
“The impact has been incredible,” she said, noting that she had been around the block with Facebook a few times before without ever creating a movement with this level of traction.
“Companies are addressing their role,” González said. “Reddit stepped up to the plate, Twitter stepped up to the plate.”
“I want to see them put their money where their mouth is,” she continued, saying that she also hoped to see lasting structural, legislative and regulatory change.