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Facebook ad boycott organizers see 'no commitment to action' in Zuckerberg meeting

(Reuters) – Organizers of a growing Facebook Inc (FB.O) advertising boycott said they saw “no commitment to action” after meeting with Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday.

More than 900 advertisers have signed on to the “Stop Hate for Profit” campaign, organized by social justice groups including the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and Free Press, to pressure the world’s largest social media network to take concrete steps to block hate speech and misinformation, in the wake of the death of George Floyd in police custody.

“They (Facebook) showed up to the meeting expecting an A for attendance,” said Rashad Robinson, president of Color of Change, one of the boycott organizers, during a press call following the meeting.

The campaign, which calls for advertisers to pause their Facebook ads for July, has outlined 10 changes it wants from Facebook, including allowing victims of severe harassment to speak with a company employee and giving refunds to brands whose ads show up next to offensive content that is later removed.

Color of Change said in a statement the only recommendation Zuckerberg and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg attempted to address in the meeting was establishing a civil rights position within the company, but they would not commit to making it a senior executive job or defining the role.

Facebook “refused to offer” live user support with a Facebook rep, and provided no details on an independent hate speech audit it has discussed with advertisers, Color of Change said.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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World News

Facebook, Google suspend processing Hong Kong government data requests

(Reuters) – Facebook Inc (FB.O), Google Inc and Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) suspended processing government requests for user data in Hong Kong, they said on Monday, following China’s establishment of a sweeping new national security law for the semi-autonomous city.

Facebook, which also owns WhatsApp and Instagram, said in a statement it was pausing reviews for all of its services “pending further assessment of the National Security Law.”

Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O), and Twitter said they suspended their reviews of data requests from Hong Kong authorities immediately after the law went into effect last week. Twitter cited “grave concerns” about the law’s implications.

Google said it would continue reviewing Hong Kong government requests for removals of user-generated content from its services. Twitter declined to comment, while Facebook did not respond to a request for comment.

Social networks often apply localized restrictions to posts that violate local laws but not their own rules for acceptable speech. Facebook restricted 394 such pieces of content in Hong Kong in the second half of 2019, up from eight in the first half of the year, according to its transparency report.

Tech companies have long operated freely in Hong Kong, a regional financial hub where internet access has been unaffected by the firewall imposed in mainland China, which blocks Google, Twitter and Facebook.

In addition to the announcements by the U.S tech giants, TikTok, the short-form video app owned by China-based ByteDance, said it would pull out of the Hong Kong market within days.

TikTok was designed so it could not be accessed by mainland China, part of a strategy to appeal to a more global audience. Hong Kong is a small, loss-making market for the company, one source familiar with the matter said.

Asked about the moves by the U.S. tech firms and prospects for media freedom, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam told a news conference on Tuesday: “Ultimately, time and facts will tell that this law will not undermine human rights and freedoms.”

APPLE AND SIGNAL

Apple said Monday it does not receive requests for user content directly from the Hong Kong government. Instead, it requires authorities there to submit requests under a mutual U.S.-Hong Kong legal assistance treaty. The U.S. Department of Justice receives the requests and reviews them for “legal conformance,” Apple said.

“We’re assessing the new law, which went into effect less than a week ago, and we have not received any content requests since the law went into effect,” Apple said in a statement.

Apple said on its website that it makes an exception to working through legal assistance treaties for “emergency requests,” which it defines in part as “circumstance(s) involving imminent and serious threat(s) to .. the security of a State.”

Data from Apple’s website showed it did not receive any emergency requests from Hong Kong between 2015, when it began keeping detailed records and June 2019, the most recent point in time for which it has disclosed requests.

China’s parliament passed the new national security legislation last week, setting the stage for the most radical changes to the former British colony’s way of life since it returned to Chinese rule 23 years ago.

Some Hong Kong residents have said they were reviewing their previous posts on social media related to pro-democracy protests and the security law, and deleting ones they thought would be viewed as sensitive.

Messaging app Signal, which promises end-to-end encryption, has seen a surge in sign ups by Hong Kong residents in recent days.

“We’d announce that we’re stopping too, but we never started turning over user data to HK police. Also, we don’t have user data to turn over,” it tweeted on Monday.

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World News

Tech companies suspend processing Hong Kong government data requests

(Reuters) – Facebook Inc (FB.O), Google Inc and Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) suspended processing government requests for user data in Hong Kong, they said on Monday, following China’s establishment of a sweeping new national security law for the semi-autonomous city.

Facebook, which also owns WhatsApp and Instagram, said in a statement it was “pausing” reviews for all of its services “pending further assessment of the National Security Law.”

Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O), and Twitter said they suspended their reviews of data requests from Hong Kong authorities immediately after the law went into effect last week. Twitter cited “grave concerns” about the law’s implications.

Google said it would continue reviewing Hong Kong government requests for removals of user-generated content from its services. Twitter declined to comment, while Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Social networks often apply localized restrictions to posts that violate local laws but not their own rules for acceptable speech. Facebook restricted 394 such pieces of content in Hong Kong in the second half of 2019, up from eight in the first half of the year, according to its transparency report.

Tech companies have long operated freely in Hong Kong, a regional financial hub where internet access has been unaffected by the firewall imposed in mainland China, which blocks Google, Twitter and Facebook.

China’s parliament passed the new national security legislation for the semi-autonomous city last week, setting the stage for the most radical changes to the former British colony’s way of life since it returned to Chinese rule 23 years ago.

Some Hong Kong residents said they were reviewing their previous posts on social media related to pro-democracy protests and the security law, and proactively deleting ones they thought would be viewed as sensitive.

The legislation pushed China further along a collision course with the United States, with which it is already in disputes over trade, the South China sea and the coronavirus.

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World News

Canada's biggest banks join boycott of Facebook platforms

TORONTO (Reuters) – Canada’s biggest lenders confirmed on Friday they had joined a widespread boycott of Facebook Inc (FB.O) begun by U.S. civil rights groups seeking to pressure the world’s largest social media platform to take concrete steps to block hate speech.

More than 400 brands have pulled advertising on Facebook in response to the “Stop Hate for Profit” campaign, begun after the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25.

Canadian lenders Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO), Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO), Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO), Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO), National Bank of Canada (NA.TO) and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM.TO) all said they will pause advertising on Facebook platforms in July.

Desjardins Group, Canada’s largest federation of credit unions, also said on its website on Thursday it will pause advertising on Facebook and Instagram for the month “barring any exceptional situations where we need to communicate with our members or clients.”

Most cited their commitments to inclusion and diversity.

Facebook has opened itself up to a civil rights audit and has banned 250 white supremacist organizations from Facebook and Instagram, a spokesman said by email. Its investments in artificial intelligence mean it finds nearly 90% of hate speech it takes action on before users report it, he added.

BMO said it is continuing its “ongoing dialogue with Facebook on changes they can make to their platforms to reduce the spread of hate speech.”

RBC said one way to help clients and communities is to stand against “misinformation and hate speech, which only make systemic racism more pervasive.”

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World News

Facebook bans accounts linked to anti-government US 'boogaloo' movement

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) – Facebook stepped up the battle against the amorphous anti-government “boogaloo” movement on Tuesday (June 30), banning accounts of adherents who encouraged violence during recent anti-racism protests across the United States.

The social media company for the first time designated a subset of boogaloo followers as a dangerous organisation, marking them for the same sanctions Facebook applies to 250 white supremacist groups and organisations it categorises as supporting terrorism around the world.

The move came four days after Attorney-General William Barr established a Justice Department task force to counter violent anti-government extremists including boogaloo as well as the left-wing antifa movement.

The boogaloo movement’s name is inspired by the 1984 breakdancing film Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo.

Followers suggest that, just as the movie was a sequel, any coming conflict would be the sequel to the American Civil War.

“This violent network is banned from having a presence on our platform and we will remove content praising, supporting or representing it,” Facebook said in a blog post.

“It is actively promoting violence against civilians, law enforcement and government officials and institutions.”

Facebook said it its policy was a blunt instrument that included removing praise for the banned network and shared pictures, so that many who thought posts were funny will also see their material taken down.

The targeted network includes 106 Facebook groups and 220 accounts, and another 400 groups were also removed for hosting similar content.

Prosecutors have linked boogaloo followers to several violent incidents during the recent wave of protests across the United States following the May police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Two men inspired by the boogaloo movement were charged in California in the killing of a courthouse guard during a night of nearby protests.

In Las Vegas, three people who prosecutors say are members of the boogaloo movement were arrested and charged with planning to incite violence and destruction during protests.

Evidence of US law enforcement’s concern over boogaloo emerged in hacked documents published June 19 by the leaks site Distributed Denial of Secrets.

Dozens of analysis documents concluded that the term is used by racially motivated and far-right actors encouraging violence against police.

The Southern Poverty Law Centre advocacy group said the term boogaloo “is regularly deployed by white nationalists and neo-Nazis who want to see society descend into chaos so that they can come to power and build a new fascist state.”

FAST-CHANGING SYMBOLS

Instead of using widely known symbols, boogaloo imagery evolves rapidly, even shedding the word boogaloo in favor of homonyms like big igloo and big luau – and then adopting new symbols like igloos and Hawaiian shirts.

“Members of this network seek to recruit others within the broader boogaloo movement, sharing the same content online and adopting the same offline appearance as others in the movement to do so,” Facebook said.

The company said it anticipated a complicated cycle of objections, evasions and evolutions as some of the banned account holders come back under new names.

Before Facebook’s move, Reuters spoke with two administrators of a boogaloo Facebook page called Big Igloo Bois, created about a year ago, which has nearly 37,000 followers. Both are military veterans, one in his 40s from Pennsylvania and the second in his 30s from North Carolina.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, they rejected accusations that the boogaloo movement is extremist or violent.

“We’re vehemently opposed to the idea of using violence to get your point across. We get kind of shoehorned into the idea of being violent extremists because we support the Second Amendment,” one of the administrators said in reference to the US Constitution’s right to bear arms.

The Justice Department in a memo to law enforcement and prosecutors said extremists including boogaloo adherents had committed acts of violence.

“Some pretend to profess a message of freedom and progress, but they are in fact forces of anarchy, destruction, and coercion,” Barr said.

The Big Igloo Bois Facebook account appeared to have been among those taken down on Tuesday.

Last week, one of the group’s administrators said: “Everyday I’m happy that we’re still on Facebook.”

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Business

Facebook: Sir Martin Sorrell says some firms ‘virtue signalling’ over advertising boycott

Sir Martin Sorrell has accused some companies of “virtue signalling” as Facebook faces a growing advertising boycott over concerns that it is not doing enough to tackle hate speech.

The marketing industry boss – who led advertising giant WPP before founding latest venture S4 Capital – told Sky News he was not advising clients to withdraw their business from the platform.

His remarks came after Starbucks became the latest household name to suspend its adverts on Facebook, following the likes of Unilever and Coca-Cola.

The tech giant has come under fire over its perceived lack of action on hate speech – notably by keeping up a post by Donald Trump in which the US president said “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” during early protests over the death of George Floyd.

The same post was hidden by Twitter, which said it had violated its “rules about glorifying violence”.

Sir Martin said Facebook had made “strenuous efforts” to tackle hate speech – including new plans announced last week.

He told Sky’s Ian King Live: “I think they will be doing more to try and deal with it because clearly advertisers – quite rightly – are concerned about this, because consumers are concerned about it.

“It is true there is some virtue signalling going on here – some righteous, or unrighteous, indignation.

“Some of the companies are just responding because they think it is virtuous to do that. But at its heart most of them I think are taking genuine steps to try and change the environment.”

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Facebook agrees to audit its hate speech controls

(Reuters) – Facebook Inc (FB.O) said on Monday it would submit itself to an audit of how it controls hate speech in a bid to appease a growing advertising boycott of the platform, as it prepared to address a group of advertisers on Tuesday.

The move comes as major advertisers such as Unilever (ULVR.L) and Starbucks (SBUX.O) have signed on to the “Stop Hate for Profit” campaign started by U.S. civil rights groups, which urges brands to pause their Facebook ads in July to pressure the social media giant to do more to take down hate speech.

Media Rating Council (MRC), a media measurement firm, will conduct the audit to evaluate how it protects advertisers from appearing next to harmful content and the accuracy of Facebook’s reporting in certain areas.

The scope and timing of the audit are still being finalized, Facebook said.

Carolyn Everson, Facebook’s vice president of global marketing solutions, is expected to address a group of advertisers on Tuesday morning, according to an advertising agency executive who will attend the call.

Ford Motor Co (F.N) and Coca-Cola (KO.N) are among companies that said they would pause advertising on all social media platforms for at least 30 days.

Facebook announced last week it would label “newsworthy” content that violates its policies, but the move failed to satisfy organizers of the boycott, who plan to call on more global advertisers to join the campaign.

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Puma pauses ads on Facebook and Instagram in July

BERLIN (Reuters) – German sportswear brand Puma said on Tuesday it will pause all paid advertising globally on Facebook and Instagram throughout July to persuade the social media company to remove hostile and harmful conversation on its sites.

Puma joins a long list of companies that have pulled advertising from Facebook in support of a campaign that called out the social media giant for not doing enough to stop hatespeech on its platforms.

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Hershey’s joins Facebook ad boycott for July

200+ brands boycotting ads on Facebook

FOX Business’ Susan Li says the Clorox Company, along with other companies, are pausing advertisements on Facebook in an effort to target the social media platform for reported hate speech.

America’s largest chocolate company is joining the advertising boycott against Facebook.

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COCA-COLA PAUSES PAID ADVERTISING ON SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS

Jill Baskin, chief marketing officer at The Hershey’s Company, announced its move in an interview with NPR on Friday. The global chocolate brand will reportedly pause its paid ads for the month of July to take a stand against hate speech on the multibillion-dollar social media company.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
HSY HERSHEY FOODS 127.61 +1.76 +1.40%
FB FACEBOOK INC. 220.64 +4.56 +2.11%

ADIDAS, REEBOK JOIN FACEBOOK ADS BOYCOTT IN JULY

“We do not believe that Facebook is effectively managing violent and divisive speech on their platform,” Baskin told the public radio station. “Despite repeated assertions by Facebook to take action, we have not seen meaningful change.”

Additionally, Baskin noted that Hershey’s reached out to Facebook to say it was “unhappy with their stance on hate speech” earlier this month. Future Hershey’s advertising on Facebook’s platforms will be reduced by a third for the remainder of 2020.

CLOROX PULLS FACEBOOK ADS AS BOYCOTT GROWS

“We are hopeful that Facebook will take action and make it a safe space for our consumers to communicate and gather,” Baskin added while noting that Hershey’s has formally joined the Stop Hate for Profit campaign. “As a company, we stand for the values of togetherness and inclusion and we are resolute in our commitment to make a difference and be part of positive change.”

5 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT MARK ZUCKERBERG

FOX Business reached out for further comment but a Hershey’s spokesperson referred to Baskin’s statement instead.

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Hershey’s is not the only sweet treat company that has announced a public boycott of Facebook.

Ben & Jerry’s and Coca-Cola have joined the Stop Hate for Profit campaign, which is asking “all businesses to stand in solidarity with our most deeply held American values of freedom, equality and justice and not advertise on Facebook's services in July,” according to the organization’s website.

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Facebook did not immediately respond to FOX Business’s request for comment.

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Best Buy joins Facebook ad boycott with Adidas, Clorox, others

200+ brands boycotting ads on Facebook

FOX Business’ Susan Li says the Clorox Company, along with other companies, are pausing advertisements on Facebook in an effort to target the social media platform for reported hate speech.

Best Buy is pausing its ads on Facebook ads for the social media giant's apparent failure to address hate speech.

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The retailer is the latest on a growing list of big companies pausing advertising on the platform and its Instagram app for the month of July, Forbes reported, as top civil rights groups call out Facebook and other major corporations for not going far enough to end discrimination across its sites.

"We support what groups like the NAACP and ADL are trying to achieve, and our decision was made on that basis,” a Best Buy spokesperson told FOX Business, confirming the decision.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
BBY BEST BUY 86.33 +1.53 +1.80%
FB FACEBOOK INC. 220.64 +4.56 +2.11%

A civil rights movement that includes the Anti-Defamation League and the NAACP launched the #StopHateforProfit campaign in early June, inviting major companies to halt Facebook ads due to its "repeated failure to meaningfully address the vast proliferation of hate on its platforms."

CLOROX PULLS FACEBOOK ADS

Among the other names joining the boycott are Adidas, Ford, Starbucks and Unilever. Clorox, Patreon, Denny’s and Pepsi have all also declared the same.

Facebook was pointed to in recent days after it initially declined to add a warning label to a post from President Donald Trump that said looting would lead to shooting amid nationwide protests against police brutality and discrimination. The company later announced it would begin to label posts from politicians that violate its policies.

5 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT MARK ZUCKERBERG

Facebook said in response to the boycott that it “spends billions of dollars each year to keep our community safe and continuously work with outside experts to review and update our policies. We know we have more work to do, and we’ll continue to work with civil rights groups, GARM, and other experts to develop more tools, technology and policies to continue this fight.”

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While shares of the tech giant were up 2 percent Monday, they have been dropping as more companies sign onto the boycott. Shares ended down 8 percent Friday and have dropped 4 percent in the last month, including a near-8 percent slide in the last seven days.

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