Facebook COO says the largest social platform ‘has to get better’ on hateful content

Facebook Inc chief operating officer (COO) Sheryl Sandberg said the company needs to get better at removing hateful speech – a response to hundreds of companies that have stopped advertising on the social network for what they consider a failure to purge harmful content.
July 08, 2020 | 07:04
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Facebook will ban a "wider category of hateful content" in ads. Photo: Reuters

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg on Tuesday (July 07) pledged to root out hateful posts, saying the social network has to get better at finding and removing hateful content.

Ahead of her meeting with civil rights groups in the presence of CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Sandberg said they are making changes not for financial reasons or advertiser pressure, but because it is the right thing to do.

"Facebook stands firmly against hate. Being a platform where everyone can make their voice heard is core to our mission, but that doesn't mean it's acceptable for people to spread hate. It's not," she said in a statement.

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Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Sandberg and Zuckerberg were scheduled to meet with online racial justice group Color of Change, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and other groups behind the boycott Facebook campaign that has seen over 400 advertisers leaving Facebook in recent days.

"We meet in the context of what may be the largest social movement in US history, and our nation's best and latest chance to act against the racism that has pervaded our country since before our independence," she said.

Sandberg said that they have made real progress over the years, but this work is never finished.

"We have worked for years to try to minimize the presence of hate on our platform. That's why we agreed to undertake the civil rights audit two years ago," she said, adding that the company is working hard every day to enforce its policies with ever greater precision and speed.

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Visitors visit the sign outside Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. Photo: Patrick Tehan/Bay Area News Group

Facebook is set to publish its independent civil rights audit - a two-year review of its policies and practices led by noted civil liberties and civil rights experts on Wednesday.

"We are the first social media company to undertake an audit of this kind. This two-year journey has had a profound effect on our culture and the way we think about our impact on the world," said Sandberg.

“We are making changes – not for financial reasons or advertiser pressure, but because it is the right thing to do,” Sandberg said. “We are never going to be perfect, but we care about this deeply. We will continue to listen and learn and work in the weeks, months and years ahead”, she added.

A number of big companies, including drugmaker Pfizer, software major SAP, Coca Cola, Adidas, fast-food chain Denny''s, Ford, and Starbucks, among others, have decided to pull their ads from the platform.

As hundreds of companies halt advertising on Facebook and Instagram, Zuckerberg is confident the brands would soon return on the platform.

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A growing list of companies has announced that it will boycott Facebook over a failure to crack down on racism and hate speech, amid campaigning by groups including Stop Hate for Profit. Photo: FT montage; Shutterstock
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Tony Nguyen
IANS, Bloomberg
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