Briefing

Facebook to label posts after Unilever, Honda and Verizon pull their ads

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Unilever said Friday that it would no longer buy ads on Facebook platforms, or on Twitter, for the rest of the year, citing both companies’ content moderation policies. Verizon announced its participation in the ad boycott yesterday. Honda also declared its intention to “withhold” ads from Facebook and Instagram for July. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg responded by saying the platform would start labelling posts that violate its rules, but are “deemed newsworthy.” It will also ban false posts about voting and add protections “for immigrants and other minority groups from ads that suggest they are inferior.” (The Wall Street Journal, CNBC)

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Talking point: The rapidly growing #StopHateForProfit movement is pressuring social media firms to better address the spread of hate speech and misinformation on their platforms. The movement, which began about a week ago, has so far earned support from almost 100 brands. Unilever was Facebook’s 33rd-biggest advertiser in the first three weeks of June, spending over US$2 million in that time. Shares of Facebook and Twitter fell more than seven per cent each after Unilever’s announcement. Facebook said it invests significant amounts to keep its platform safe and has banned 250 white supremacist organizations. “We know we have more work to do,” the company said. Twitter, which has been implicated in the boycott for the first time, said it was “respectful of our partners’ decisions.” Facebook executives have been talking to advertisers this week, admitting to a “trust deficit.” Meanwhile, the Trump administration is asking tech companies to address posts that rally people to break curfews and take down statues, finding that social media platforms had facilitated “burglary, arson, aggravated assault, rioting, looting, and defacing public property.”