After months of increasing pressure, leaders of the #StopHateForProfit boycott campaign today met with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other Facebook executives. In a conversation with reporters after the meeting, organizers from Color of Change, Free Press, NAACP and the Anti-Defamation League described the meeting as frustrating.
"The meeting we just left was a disappointment," said Color of Change President Rashad Robinson. "At that point we were expecting a very clear answer to the requirements we are making, and we didn't understand that."
The Zoom held meeting lasted just over an hour and included a variety of policy team leaders including Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer, and Chris Cox, Chief Product Officer. While the company was keen to continue dialogue with the groups, the organizers said the company had no firm commitments the 10 demands made by boycott organizers, which include banning politicians from calling and removing groups that focus on white supremacy or Holocaust denial.
"The only recommendation they ever tried to answer was to set up a civil rights position, but could not commit to the key element of the position at the C-Suite level or the requirements for the position," said Color of Change in a follow-up statement. "However, they offered no attempt to respond to the other nine recommendations."
Jonathan Greenblatt, President of the Anti-Defamation League – a partner of the # StopHateForProfit coalition – shared these frustrations and described the meeting as "a long time but little commitment". In particular, Greenblatt questioned Facebook's claim that 89 percent of the hateful content users want to publish is proactively removed. "The Ford Motor Company cannot say that 89 percent of its seat belts work," he said.
"The answer we heard was," We're on a trip, we're doing better, we're almost there, "Greenblatt continued." It's not good enough. "
Facebook was asked to comment and stressed its efforts to moderate harmful content, including banning specific white supremacist organizations and drafting guidelines against voter misinformation and censuses. "This meeting was an opportunity for us to hear from the organizers of the campaign and reaffirm our commitment to fighting hatred on our platform," said a Facebook spokesman. "They want Facebook to be free of hate speech, and we too. That is why it is so important that we work to get it right. "
The # StopHateForProfit campaign focuses on moderating hate groups through Facebook and has achieved remarkable success in persuading advertisers to abandon the platform. Coca-Cola, Unilever, Diageo and many other large advertisers have committed not to buy advertising on Facebook until the issues are resolved.
The campaign also had an impact outside of Facebook. As part of the campaign, YouTube, Reddit and Twitch made significant moderation efforts. Facebook has also removed a number of pages related to the insurgent "Boogaloo" movement.
Facebook's most comprehensive response to the demands was the long-standing civil rights review. The company plans to release the final report of this review, which is being conducted by an independent law firm, tomorrow. However, activists remain concerned about how vigorously the company will implement the audit recommendations.
"We have worked for years to minimize the presence of hate on our platform," wrote Sandberg in a blog post after the meeting. “We work hard every day to enforce our policies with ever greater precision and speed. We will never be perfect, but that is very important to us. "
Update 6:01 p.m. ET: Updated with a statement from a Facebook spokesman.