Someone’s not too impressed, we’ll say.
Civil rights and activist groups blasted Facebook’s leadership on Tuesday after meeting with CEO Mark Zuckerberg, COO Sheryl Sandberg and other execs earlier this week to discuss the demands of a large advertiser boycott, which now spans to hundreds of brands, spearheaded by giants such as Unilever and Coca-Cola.
The companies participating in the protest have vowed to pull their ads from Facebook and Instagram for at least the month of July.
“The meeting we just left was a disappointment,” said Rashad Robinson, the president of Color of Change. “Facebook showed up expecting an A for attendance.”
“Instead of committing to a timeline to root out hate and disinformation on Facebook, the company’s leaders delivered the same old talking points to try to placate us without meeting our demands,” said Free Press Co-CEO Jessica Gonzalez.
The campaign had called on participating brands to ask for 10 changes that touch on every aspect of how Facebook operates, from the ads it allows to run on the platform to the makeup of its leadership team and its content moderation policies.
The group also wants Facebook to ban political ads with blatant lies, but Facebook was firm on allowing this to go on previously, citing the fact that it doesn’t want to censor political speech.
Facebook spokesman Andy Stone said the company has established new policies banning voting and census suppression and removed more than 200 white supremacist organizations from the platform. To us though, it seems like something they should have done ages ago and to be honest, seems like a minimum requirement.
Hate speech of that degree shouldn’t fall under free speech.
“While we won’t be making every change they call for, we will put more of their proposals into practice soon,” wrote Sheryl Sandberg after the meeting. However, the activist groups remain skeptical about real, actionable change.
“It’s only as good as what Facebook ends up doing with the content,” said the spokesperson for Color of Change.
In ironic bad timing, Facebook also announced yesterday that it will delay the launch of its planned oversight board, something it’s been talking about since 2018. The company said this initiative won’t happen until late fall, which is likely code for post election, the time it probably needs the board the most.
The board will for now primarily concern itself with disputed takedowns of content, not simply disputed content. On many matters its decisions will be merely advisory.
The delay of the board, coupled with the lack of commitment in the activist group meeting suggests that Facebook’s casual approach to content moderation may end up not fairing well for the company. The wave of criticism showed how far Facebook is from reassuring its critics, which is likely to lead to continued problems and pressing scrutiny from regulators alike.
Then again, has the social media giant gotten too big to fail?