Facebook, Twitter shares sink after Unilever pulls ads

Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said in a live-streamed company town hall that Facebook would ban ads that claim people from groups based on race religion sexual orientation or immigration status are a threat to physical safety or health [File Erin Sco

Facebook, Twitter shares sink after Unilever pulls ads

Facebook and Twitter tumbled the most in weeks after consumer giant Unilever said it would halt United States ads on the social media platforms for the rest of 2020 because of concerns over hate speech and polarised American politics.

Separately, Facebook's stock dropped more than 8%, erasing roughly $50 billion from its market valuation, after the European company behind brands such as Ben & Jerry's and Dove announced it would boycott Facebook ads through the end of the year over the amount of hate speech and divisive rhetoric on its platform. In a statement, a spokesperson said the company would "continue to work with civil rights groups". "We will be checking ongoing and will revisit our latest place if required".

Some of the measures described on Friday were clarifications of Facebook's existing policies, and civil-rights leaders who have been in discussions with the company on these issues said the moves were insufficient.

Shares of Twitter Inc closed 7.4 percent lower on NYSE.

In a livestreamed segment of the company's weekly all-hands meeting, CEO Mark Zuckerberg recapped some of the steps Facebook is already taking, and announced new measures to fight voter suppression and misinformation - although they amount to things that other social media platforms like Twitter have already enahatected and enforced in more aggressive ways.

For more than a week now, the civil rights groups the NAACP and the Anti-Defamation League have been calling on all corporate brands to pause advertising on the social network through July.

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On Thursday, American telecoms company Verizon joined a boycott on Facebook advertising. She also stated that during the six month time period that ended in March, 89% of the posts removed by Facebook for violating its policies against offensive messages were done automatically before anyone on the platform had a chance to read them.

More brands joined the fray as the day wore on.

Coca-Cola, a major force in global advertising, announced Friday that it would suspend ads on social media for at least 30 days, as platforms face a reckoning over how they deal with racist content. Hershey Co. intends to halt Facebook spending in July, according to Business Insider. The statement argued that, because of the "divisiveness and hate speech during this polarized election period in the US", the company is taking its social responsibilities very seriously.

The shifts are at least a partial retreat from the company's traditional deference to speech it deems "newsworthy", including Facebook's decision earlier this month to not label or remove a post by Trump that "when the looting starts, the shooting starts".

Until Friday, Trump's posts with identical wording to those labeled on Twitter remained untouched on Facebook, sparking criticism from Trump's opponents as well as current and former Facebook employees.

Zuckerberg said Facebook believes "there is a public interest in allowing a wider range of free expression in people's posts than in paid ads".

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The video and blog post did not directly reference the rapidly-growing advertising boycott of his platform over Facebook's inability to suppress hateful content.

The company also plans to ban ads that include derogatory statements about people based on identifiable categories such as immigration status or sexual orientation, Mr. Zuckerberg said.

Shortly before Zuckerberg spoke, Unilever, the maker of household brands including Dove soap and Hellmann's mayonnaise, said it would stop advertising on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in the USA through the end of the year.

"We've developed insurance policies and platform capabilities created to guard and serve the general public dialog, and as at all times, are dedicated to amplifying voices from under-represented communities and marginalized teams", mentioned Sarah Personette, vp for Twitter's International Consumer Options.

The Indian Express is now on Telegram.

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