Facebook claims it ‘does not profit from hate’ in open letter

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Facebook published an open letter Wednesday saying it does not benefit from hateful content as a campaign for advertisers to boycott the platform for its failure to moderate racist, sexist and otherwise objectionable content builds steam.

“I want to be unambiguous: Facebook does not profit from hate,” Nick Clegg, the company’s vice president of global affairs and communications, wrote in the letter. “Billions of people use Facebook and Instagram because they have good experiences — they don’t want to see hateful content, our advertisers don’t want to see it, and we don’t want to see it. There is no incentive for us to do anything but remove it.”

Clegg said that more than 100 billion messages are sent on the company’s platforms every day, making it difficult to catch all the content that violates its policies.

“Unfortunately, zero tolerance doesn’t mean zero incidences,” he wrote. “With so much content posted every day, rooting out the hate is like looking for a needle in a haystack.”

The letter says that enforcement has gotten better while acknowledging that further changes are needed.

“We may never be able to prevent hate from appearing on Facebook entirely, but we are getting better at stopping it all the time,” Clegg concluded.

The public defense of Facebook’s content moderation comes as the platform begins to make changes in response to an advertising boycott that has ballooned to more than 400 brands.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg has agreed to meet with the heads of the civil rights groups organizing the campaign, which calls on companies to pull their ad dollars from the platform for at least the month of July.

He also committed last week to flagging political speech that violates platform policies, a marked shift from the company’s previous hands-off approach.

Critics are unlikely to be satisfied by Clegg’s letter, however, as evidence keeps emerging to contradict his claims.

On Tuesday, Facebook announced it was taking down a network of accounts, pages and groups tied to the extremist “boogaloo” movement, and banning the anti-government group going forward.

Just hours later, BuzzFeed News reported that Facebook had for months been running — and profiting from — boogaloo ads advocating for violence.

Tags BuzzFeed Criticism of Facebook Facebook Hate speech Instagram Mark Zuckerberg Nick Clegg Social media

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