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Civil-Rights Groups Call for Facebook Ad Boycott

(Dado Ruvic/Reuters)

A number of U.S. civil-rights groups are calling on major advertisers to pull their ads from Facebook to protest what they say is the mammoth social media company’s “repeated failure” to adequately address the proliferation of hate speech and misinformation on its platform.

The Anti-Defamation League and the NAACP along with four other groups announced the campaign on Wednesday, taking out a full-page ad in the Los Angeles Times to publicize the initiative. The other groups participating in the #StopHateforProfit campaign, which urges corporations to suspend their Facebook ad spending for July, are Sleeping Giants, Colors of Change, Free Press, and Common Sense.

“Today, we are 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,” the ad reads. “Let’s send Facebook a powerful message: Your profits will never be worth promoting hate, bigotry, racism, antisemitism and violence.”

The campaign accuses Facebook of amplifying white nationalists and ignoring “blatant voter suppression,” and urges Facebook to protect and support black users, call out Holocaust denial as hate, and help get out the vote.

“We have long seen how Facebook has allowed some of the worst elements of society into our homes and our lives. When this hate spreads online it causes tremendous harm and also becomes permissible offline,” Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. “Our organizations have tried individually and collectively to push Facebook to make their platforms safer, but they have repeatedly failed to take meaningful action. We hope this campaign finally shows Facebook how much their users and their advertisers want them to make serious changes for the better.”

“We’ve had multiple conversations with them to create some safeguards,” said Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP. “Now we’re approaching four years later, another election cycle. All evidence suggests that the same thing will happen this year and that should not be acceptable by anyone.”

The vast majority of Facebook’s $70.7 billion annual revenue comes from advertising.

The Justice Department on Wednesday proposed a legislative plan to Congress that would repeal some immunity protections for tech companies, including Facebook, that shield them from lawsuits over content posted by users.

Last month, President Trump signed an executive order targeting legal protections for Facebook and other social media companies in response to complaints by conservatives that they have been censored on the platforms.

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