Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has shrugged off suggestions of threat to the company because of a boycott of the largest social media platform by major advertisers in support of the company being forced to take a stronger stand on hate speech.
Zuckerberg said that the advertisers will be back “soon enough”.
The current boycott of Facebook by major advertisers and brands such as Starbucks and Coca-Cola is viewed by Zuckerberg more as a PR issue rather than any form of serious threat to the company and therefore is not planning on any major response pot the issue, the CEO said, according to a report by tech news site the Information.
“We’re not gonna change our policies or approach on anything because of a threat to a small percent of our revenue, or to any percent of our revenue,” he said, according to the Information.
According to a transcript obtained by the news site, Zuckerberg told staff that the boycott is a “reputational and a partner issue” instead of an economic one. “My guess is that all these advertisers will be back on the platform soon enough.”
The accuracy of the transcript was confirmed to the media by a Facebook spokesperson.
“We take these matters very seriously and respect the feedback from our partners. We’re making real progress keeping hate speech off our platform, and we don’t benefit from this kind of content. But as we’ve said, we make policy changes based on principles, not revenue pressures,” the spokesperson said.
An advertising boycott of Facebook intended to put pressure on the social media giant to take a stronger stand against hate speech was officially launched this Wednesday by more than 500 companies. According to reports, Zuckerberg will be meeting early next week with the organizers of the campaign.
But whether Zuckerberg will bend down to the demands of the companies and further strengthen the rules and users policies of the social media platform will actually depend on the question of does the advertisers need Facebook’s platform more than the social media accompany needs the big-brand advertisers.
However the current advertisement blockade that Facebook is currently experiencing is something that it has not undergone previously. After weeks of protests in the United States against police violence and racial injustice, major advertisers of Facebook have come together to protest against still-prevalent hate speech on Facebook’s platforms by trying to hit the social media company’s 70bn annual revenue from advertisement.
Critics of Facebook are hopeful that by hitting the company where it hurts the most, they would be able to push the company to bring in some meaningful change to its attitude towards hate speech even though the company has for years offered piecemeal measures to address hate, abuse and misinformation on its platform, according to its critics.
Facebook has however tried to assure businesses about its role in addressing hate speech on its platforms. The company’s vice-president of global affairs and communications, Nick Clegg, said on Wednesday that the company stands opt gain nothing hate and added that it has every incentive to remove ate speech from its service.
He acknowledged that “many of our critics are angry about the inflammatory rhetoric President Trump has posted on our platform and others, and want us to be more aggressive in removing his speech”.
(Adapted from TheGuardian.com)