Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg outlined several steps the social network will take to combat hate speech as companies pull advertising from its platform.
In a live stream and post published to Facebook on Friday, Zuckerberg detailed multiple steps the company will take ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
Among the planned steps: pushing back against voter suppression, boosting standards for hateful content in ads, and labeling content deemed newsworthy.
“I’m optimistic that we can make progress on public health and racial justice while maintaining our democratic traditions around free expression and voting,” wrote Zuckerberg. “I’m committed to making sure Facebook is a force for good on this journey.”
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Zuckerberg said any posts that would typically violate their policies but remain on the platform will include a label noting the content they are sharing may violate their policies.
The co-founder and CEO also said they will not provide any exemptions to content that incites violence or suppresses voting.
“Even if a politician or government official says it, if we determine that content may lead to violence or deprive people of their right to vote, we will take that content down,” he said. “Similarly, there are no exceptions for politicians in any of the policies I’m announcing here today.
Multiple companies including Unilever and Verizon have said they will halt advertising on the platform, citing Facebook’s struggles to contain hate speech on its platform. Verizon’s decision is part of a larger ad boycott on Facebook for the month of July, along with companies including Eddie Bauer and Ben & Jerry’s.
“If we’re limited to 10 to 15 big name advertisers who join the boycott, I think it’s more symbolic and it would have limited impact on Facebook’s business.” said Baird analyst Colin Sebastian. “The fear is that this snowballs into something much larger.”
Zuckerberg said Friday Facebook plans to expand what qualifies as hateful content in ads, prohibiting “claims that people from a specific race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, caste, sexual orientation, gender identity or immigration status are a threat to the physical safety, health or survival of others.”
The policies will also focus on ads targeting immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers. “We already restrict certain types of content in ads that we allow in regular posts, but we want to do more to prohibit the kind of divisive and inflammatory language that has been used to sow discord,” said Zuckerberg.