Civil rights groups walked away from a meeting with Facebook executives, including CEO Mark Zuckerberg, committed to maintaining their advertising boycott against the company. On Tuesday, after the summit, the civil rights groups issued quick responses that criticized the social network's leadership and said that they heard little from the company that suggested it was serious about meeting their demands around hate speech and disinformation.
Facebook said it wanted the opportunity to talk with the groups to explain its commitment to fighting hate speech. But “what we received was the very same thing we entered into the meeting with—nothing," said Derrick Johnson, president of NAACP, following the meeting.
The NAACP, Anti-Defamation League, Color of Change and Free Press held a videoconference call with media after meeting with Zuckerberg and the other Facebook executives. The civil rights groups organized a boycott of Facebook advertising for the month of July, and claim to have about 1,000 brands and entities on board.
Starbucks, Pfizer, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Ford Motor Co. and Verizon are among the hundreds of brands that committed to the ad freeze. Facebook has about 8 million advertisers, so the boycott is not expected to damage its quarterly revenue. The company made $70 billion in ad revenue in 2019. The boycott has damaged Facebook's reputation, however, with brands that are concerned about supporting content that could be construed as hateful and offensive.
“This meeting was an opportunity for us to hear from the campaign organizers and reaffirm our commitment to combating hate on our platform,” a Facebook spokesman told Ad Age by email. “They want Facebook to be free of hate speech and so do we. That’s why it’s so important that we work to get this right. We know we will be judged by our actions not by our words and are grateful to these groups and many others for their continued engagement.”