Activists Slam Facebook Meeting Amid Ad Boycott A Day Before Co. Set To Release Independent Civil Rights Audit

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Civil rights activists called a Tuesday meeting with Facebook a wash and said they’re unconvinced the social media giant is doing enough to combat hate speech.

“Today we saw little and heard just about nothing,” said Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt during a press conference after a coalition of groups including the ADL, the NAACP, Free Press and Color of Change met virtually with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg COO Sheryl Sandberg and others on the policy team.

The organizations, under the tag #StopHateForProfit, had called on businesses to “hit pause on hate” and pull advertising from Facebook. Hundreds, from Verizon to Coca Cola, Unilever and the North Face, agreed. Facebook executives do not want to appear to be bowing to financial pressure.

Free Press Co-CEO Jessica Gonzalez said that #StopHateForProfit “didn’t hear anything today to convince us that Zuckerberg and his colleagues are taking action.”

Facebook’s head of policy communications Andy Stone in a Tweeted statement called the  meeting “an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to combating hate on our platform. They want Facebook to be free of hate speech and so do we. That’s why it’s so important that we work to get this right.”

He noted that Facebook will be releasing the results of an independent civil rights audit on Wednesday.

Campaign organizers have already laid out 10 suggestions, including allowing people facing intense harassment on the network to speak directly to a Facebook employee and hiring a top level executive with a civil rights background.

The ADL’s Greenblatt said Facebook executives talked at the meeting about being on “a journey” in fighting hate speech. “There is no journey, if you will, on fighting hate. This is not an issue with two sides. There’s nothing partisan or political about pushing back on prejudice,” he said.

The ad boycott unspooled amid a growing outcry over the use of social media platforms – including by President Donald Trump — to sow division and falsehoods. Twitter was the first platform to slap a warning on a presidential Tweet. Others followed but Facebook has been the most cautious and Zuckerberg has said its policy is privileged speech. The social media companies become global communication behemoths but have little legal obligation, at least in the U.S., to police the content on their platforms.

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