In recent months, it has become clear that technology companies are not doing enough to stop the racism, harassment, anti-Semitism and misogyny that is spread through their platforms. Some companies, including Twitter, Twitch, and Reddit, have taken steps to address these issues. Others, like Facebook, have allowed hate to flourish on their sites.
The Stop Hate for Profit campaign hopes to change that reality by organizing a boycott of Facebook by large advertisers. To date, dozens of companies have joined the protest, making a commitment to not purchase ads on Facebook. 99% of Facebook’s profits come from advertising.
The Stop Hate for Profit campaign is built around businesses pausing their advertising on Facebook. As a small, community-based nonprofit organization, we know that joining this protest is a largely symbolic gesture. We don’t have an advertising budget, let alone a budget to invest in paid content.
At the same time, we strongly believe in the principle that underlies this campaign: no company should be making money from this type of hatred and incitement to violence. Whether they like it or not, tech companies have an obligation to the public to not allow these types of posts, groups, and comments go unchecked. The Stop Hate for Profit campaign is a way to provide a financial incentive for Facebook to change its policies, as well as a way to raise awareness about the problem.
For these reasons, we have made the decision to “go dark” on Facebook for the next week. We will start our protest on July 4 — a day on which Americans celebrate freedom. This boycott movement is an important reminder that freedom does not mean the right to do anything you want, regardless of whether it harms others. True freedom requires a certain level of responsibility as well as engagement from the public.
During this time, we ask you to contemplate your own use of social media, and think about ways that you may have contributed to the rising levels of hate on Facebook — or times that you simply failed to speak out against it. Send us your thoughts about how your social media use can have a positive impact in the work to end hate speech.
We also encourage you to join the broad coalition of civil rights groups that formed the Stop Hate for Profit Campaign: the ADL, Color of Change, Common Sense, Free Press, LULAC, Mozilla, the NAACP, National Hispanic Media Coalition and Sleeping Giants. You can sign their petition online and learn more about what exactly the boycott hopes to achieve.
We’ll see you in a week.