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MarketScreener Homepage  >  Equities  >  Nasdaq  >  Facebook    FB

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Civil-Rights Groups Express Disappointment With Facebook Meeting

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07/07/2020 | 04:59pm EDT

By Jeff Horwitz and Deepa Seetharaman

Civil rights advocates came out of a meeting Tuesday with Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg saying they didn't make any progress toward breaking their impasse with the social media giant over how it polices the platform.

The lack of headway, one week into a boycott by some of the company's top advertisers over the issue, points toward the likelihood of a protracted campaign that could extend beyond July, the original time frame. The organizers said they're asking more advertisers to pause their spend on Facebook globally.

"Facebook had our demands in multiple ways, and they showed up to the meeting expecting an A for attendance," said Rashad Robinson, head of the Color of Change, a progressive advocacy group for Black communities.

After years of simmering discontent and requests for change, a coalition including Anti-Defamation League and Color of Change are making the case that Mr. Zuckerberg and Facebook haven't combated racism and misinformation on its platforms in good faith. Top brands including Unilever and Clorox have agreed to pause advertising on the platform in a show of solidarity with demands Facebook do more.

In response to the discontent, Mr. Zuckerberg had pledged to reconsider its policies around discussion of the government's use of force. The company has also said it would begin labeling politicians' posts that have violated its content standards but are protected by Facebook on the grounds that they are newsworthy.

"They want Facebook to be free of hate speech and so do we," the company said in a statement after the meeting. The company said it has invested billions of dollars in content moderation and taken hundreds of white supremacist entities off its platforms. "We know we will be judged by our actions not by our words and are grateful to these groups and many others for their continued engagement."

The meeting over Zoom lasted a little over an hour and involved Mr. Zuckerberg, Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, product chief Chris Cox, other members of Facebook's policy team and a product official, the groups said.

"Today we saw little and heard just about nothing," said Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, which is devoted to combating anti-Semitic speech.

On paper, the differences between Facebook and civil rights organizations seem limited. Both agree that incitements to violence have no place on Facebook, that hate speech should be suppressed and that the company should vet its products for potential bias. While there are meaningful disagreements about subjects including Facebook's refusal to fact-check political advertising, Facebook has said it broadly shares the protesters' goals.

But the civil-rights groups argue that Facebook hasn't lived up to its past commitments to address misinformation, hate speech, radicalization and brand-safety concerns. A turning point came with Mr. Zuckerberg's free-speech talk at Georgetown University in October, when the executive framed Facebook as a democratically essential "fifth estate." Mr. Zuckerberg framed progressive calls to restrain rhetoric on the platform as a greater risk than civil rights' leaders concerns about the platform's misuse.

Bernice King said the talk failed to acknowledge how tolerance for toxic rhetoric set the table for the assassination of her father, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Vanita Gupta, who as head of the Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights had been one of the most active liaisons to Facebook, wondered "if there's any point to engagement at all."

The gap has only widened since protests over police killings of Black Americans and President Trump's social media-led rhetoric about Black Lives Matter protesters, alleged corruption in absentee voting and the historical value of Confederate monuments. After Twitter labeled Mr. Trump's tweet -- that "when the looting starts the shooting starts" -- as an incitement to violence, civil rights groups seized on Facebook's unwillingness to do the same.

Sahil Patel contributed to this article.

Write to Jeff Horwitz at Jeff.Horwitz@wsj.com and Deepa Seetharaman at Deepa.Seetharaman@wsj.com

 

Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
FACEBOOK -0.02% 261.24 Delayed Quote.27.31%
THE CLOROX COMPANY -0.20% 224.25 Delayed Quote.46.35%
UNILEVER N.V. -0.68% 49.5 Delayed Quote.-2.71%
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Financials (USD)
Sales 2020 80 074 M - -
Net income 2020 23 176 M - -
Net cash 2020 62 515 M - -
P/E ratio 2020 32,7x
Yield 2020 -
Capitalization 744 B 744 B -
EV / Sales 2020 8,51x
EV / Sales 2021 6,67x
Nbr of Employees 52 534
Free-Float 83,8%
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Mark Elliot Zuckerberg Chairman & Chief Executive Officer
Sheryl Kara Sandberg Chief Operating Officer & Director
David M. Wehner Chief Financial Officer
Michael Todd Schroepfer Chief Technology Officer
Atish Banerjea Chief Information Officer
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