2020/07/01 · Author: · Comments: 00 · Filed under: News

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have joined a campaign calling for large companies to withdraw advertising from Facebook until the platform takes action to stop the spread of hate speech.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have given their support to the #StopHateForProfit campaign, backed by Coca-Cola and more than 100 companies that have withdrawn advertising from social media platforms that fail to rein in offensive material online.

Coca-Cola has boycotted Facebook for 30 days, despite Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive, announcing policy changes on Friday, including a promise to label, but not remove, political posts that violate its rules on misleading and dangerous content.

The Baltimore-based civil rights group NAACP tweeted thanks to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle for “their leadership” and “commitment to truth, justice, and equality”.

Stop Hate for Profit accuses Facebook of turning a blind eye to incitements to violence and voter suppression and says the changes will not “make a dent in the problem”.

Mr Zuckerberg had declined to act as recently as last week, until Unilever withdrew its adverts from Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for six months. Honda, Ben and Jerry’s, the US telecommunications company Verizon and Lululemon, a sportswear brand, are also supporting the boycott.

About 98 per cent of Facebook’s $70 billion annual revenue comes from advertising. On Friday, its shares fell 8.3 per cent, shaving $7.2 billion off Mr Zuckerberg’s personal wealth.

Speaking about the duke and duchess’s involvement with the campaign, a source told Town and Country magazine: “As we’ve been developing Archewell, one of the areas the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been keen to address is online hate speech, we’ve been working with civil rights and racial justice groups on it.

“They have been working to encourage global CEOs to stand in solidarity with a coalition of civil and racial justice groups, which are calling for structural changes to our online world.”

Last year Facebook was fined a record $5 billion by a US regulator after Cambridge Analytica, a UK firm, harvested the personal information of tens of millions of users without permission.

The pressure to moderate hate speech has grown in recent weeks after Facebook refused to flag President Trump’s suggestion that looters would be shot during anti-racism protests, prompting a staff walkout. Mr Trump’s post remains live on the platform.

“I’m optimistic that we’re going to be able to make progress on these challenges,” Mr Zuckerberg said.

Critics said that the changes are inadequate, only five months before a US presidential election ripe for foreign and domestic interference.

Jessica Gonzalez, of Change the Terms, a coalition of civil rights groups, said: “We need more enforcement, not words that remain unfulfilled.”

Source: The Times

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