Facebook will label controversial content, ban hate speech in ads after boycott

Aaron Mamiit

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that the social network will be changing several content moderation policies after a number of major advertisers pledged to boycott the company. In a major reversal, Zuckerberg said the company would ban hate speech in paid advertisements on the platform and start cracking down on harmful posts by public figures.

Zuckerberg revealed the changes in a video and post on Facebook, where the CEO said that the social network is “prohibiting a wider category of hateful content in ads.”

“Specifically, we’re expanding our ads policy to prohibit 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. We’re also expanding our policies to better protect immigrants, migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers from ads suggesting these groups are inferior or expressing contempt, dismissal or disgust directed at them.”

Zuckerberg also said that Facebook will start labeling content left up on the platform even if they violate moderation policies when they are deemed newsworthy. The CEO, however, clarified that there will be no exemption for posts that incite violence or suppress voting — such content will be taken down, even when said by a politician or government official.

Other changes coming to Facebook include the creation of a Voting Information Center that will share information on voting, and additional measures to fight voter suppression such as the quick removal of false claims about polling conditions in the 72 hours before Election Day and banning posts that falsely claim ICE agents are inspecting immigration papers.

Facebook advertiser boycott

The changes follow Facebook’s largest advertising boycott, due to how it handled President Donald Trump’s post about the Minneapolis protests sparked by the murder of George Floyd, which was blocked and labeled on Twitter for “glorifying violence.” At the time, Facebook refused to label or remove the same post on Trump’s Facebook page. Zuckerberg personally defended the decision on multiple occasions.

The campaign, which is officially titled Stop Hate for Profit, demands for the social network to “address racism across their platforms.”

Unilever and Verizon are among the major brands that have pulled ads from the social network, joining ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s, production company Magnolia Pictures, and retailers Eddie Bauer, REI, Patagonia, and The North Face, among many others.