Civil rights groups urge companies to suspend Facebook advertising

(Reuters) — Several U.S. civil rights groups called upon some of the world’s largest companies to pause advertising on Facebook in July, saying the social network is not doing enough to stop hate speech on its platforms.

The groups, which include the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), on Wednesday launched here the “#StopHateforProfit” campaign with a newspaper ad.

“The campaign is a response to Facebook’s long history of allowing racist, violent and verifiably false content to run rampant on its platform,” the groups said, urging companies to “send Facebook a powerful message.”

Facebook policy chief Nick Clegg told reporters in a call that the company “emphatically stands against hate speech” and removed 10 million hateful posts from its services last quarter.

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The campaign follows the killing of African American George Floyd by police last month, which has triggered widespread protests against racial discrimination in the United States.

Much of the protest activity has played out on social media, as has organizing by far-right groups promoting racism and violence.

Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg was criticized after Facebook left untouched a post by President Donald Trump about the protests which critics said was racially charged and violated company rules against inciting violence.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Tuesday advertisers should use their leverage to hold social media companies accountable. Pelosi was speaking at an online forum about COVID-19 misinformation.

She and other Democrats have called on Facebook to step up measures against hate speech and misinformation, particularly in political ads.

Facebook made some concessions this week, introducing transparency features and a promised tool enabling users to hide the ads, but has stood firm on its hands-off approach.

The rights groups also include Sleeping Giants, Color Of Change, Free Press and Common Sense.

(Reporting by Ayanti Bera in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Elizabeth Culliford and Katie Paul in San Francisco; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila, Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Sonya Hepinstall)

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