Facebook to tag 'harmful' posts amid ad boycott

Lily Canter
·2 min read
Facebook thumbs-down hand on a iPhone. Facebook is a social media company owned by Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: Ted Soqui/Corbis via Getty Images
Facebook thumbs-down hand on a iPhone. Facebook is a social media company owned by Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: by Ted Soqui/Corbis via Getty Images

Facebook (FB) has announced plans to label potentially harmful "newsworthy" posts in response to a widening advertising boycott.

Founder Mark Zuckerberg also said the social media platform would ban adverts containing hate speech including content from politicians if it is deemed as inciting violence or suppressing voting.

The move comes as 90 advertisers, including Unilever (UL), Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and Verizon (VZ), which is the parent company of Yahoo Finance’s parent company Verizon Media, have boycotted the site.

The firm has been under increasing pressure to improve its content moderation, including posts by US president Donald Trump.

The Stop Hate for Profit campaign was started by US civil rights groups after the death of George Floyd in May while in police custody. It has focused on Facebook, which last year made £56.7bn ($70bn) in advertising revenue.

Campaigners claim Facebook allows "racist, violent and verifiably false content to run rampant on its platform".

READ MORE: Facebook boycott not about denting revenue but appealing to its 'conscience': ADL chief

On 26 June, Zuckerberg announced in an online video a range of measures to tackle hate speech and voter suppression ahead of the US election later this year.

He said the firm would ban ads that describe different cultural or racial groups as a threat.

Speaking about the tagging of newsworthy content he said: "A handful of times a year, we leave up content that would otherwise violate our policies if the public interest value outweighs the risk of harm.

"Often, seeing speech from politicians is in the public interest, and in the same way that news outlets will report what a politician says, we think people should generally be able to see it for themselves on our platforms.

"We will soon start labelling some of the content we leave up because it is deemed newsworthy, so people can know when this is the case."

Zuckerberg also defended his company's record on removing hate speech, which he said had increased from 82.6% to 86% in the past year.

Meanwhile Coca Cola (KO) CEO James Quincey announced yesterday that the company was pausing all advertising on social media globally for at least 30 days.

“There is no place for racism in the world and there is no place for racism on social media. We will take this time to reassess our advertising policies to determine whether revisions are needed. We also expect greater accountability and transparency from our social media partners,” he said.