Facebook agrees to audit its hate speech controls

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Facebook has said it would submit itself to an audit of how it controls hate speech in a bid to appease a growing advertising boycott of the platform, as it prepared to address a group of advertisers.


  • Following pressure from activists and advertisers, Facebook has agreed to submit its hate speech controls for independent audit
  • Major advertising have paused advertising either on Facebook operated properties, or across social media platforms in general
  • Facebook had previously announced it would label “newsworthy” content that violates its policies

The move comes as major advertisers such as Unilever and Starbucks have signed on to the “Stop Hate for Profit” campaign started by US civil rights groups, which urges brands to pause their Facebook ads in July to pressure the social media giant to do more to take down hate speech.

Media Rating Council, a media measurement non-profit, will conduct the audit to evaluate how it protects advertisers from appearing next to harmful content and the accuracy of Facebook’s reporting in certain areas.

The scope and timing of the audit were still being finalised, Facebook said.

Facebook hosted a call with advertisers on Tuesday, which included Carolyn Everson, Facebook’s vice president of global marketing solutions, Guy Rosen, vice president of integrity, and Neil Potts, public policy director.

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The executives told the group Facebook would include a new data point about the prevalence of hate speech in its Community Standards Enforcement Report, which details how the company takes down content that violates policy, said Barry Lowenthal, the CEO of ad agency The Media Kitchen, who attended the call.

Lowenthal said while he believed Facebook had taken many steps toward tampering down hate speech, the problem has become so large that it may require more drastic measures to fix.

“Maybe they should hit pause on the platform entirely,” Lowenthal said, whose agency works with clients like Vanguard and Loews Hotels. “How much more can society handle?”

Ford Motor Co and Coca-Cola are among companies that said they would pause advertising on all social media platforms for at least 30 days.

Facebook announced last week it would label “newsworthy” content that violates its policies, but the move failed to satisfy organisers of the boycott, who plan to call on more global advertisers to join the campaign.

(Reporting by Sheila Dang; editing by Kenneth Li and Bernadette Baum)

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