Labour boycotts Facebook amid Black Lives Matter protests

12 July 2020, 07:40

Labour is boycotting Facebook following recent Black Lives Matter protests
Labour is boycotting Facebook following recent Black Lives Matter protests. Picture: Getty

By Ewan Somerville

The Labour Party has launched an advertising boycott of Facebook to protest against hate speech online, it is understood. 

Sources said the party has pulled adverts on the platform for the entire month of July. 

It comes after major corporations including Ford, Adidas, Honda, Verizon, Diageo and Unilever all announced they were halting Facebook advertising last month, accusing the social media giant of failing to tackle hate on its platforms. 

Starbucks and Coca-Cola have also paused all advertising to the social media giant amid the “Stop Hate for Profit” campaign. 

Now a Labour Party source has told LBC News: “In line with many other organisations across the world, the Labour Party has paused spending money with Facebook for the month of July. 

“This is to show that we stand against hate online, especially in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, and urge Facebook to take stronger steps to tackle it on their platforms.”

Facebook is under fire over an alleged failure to tackle hate speech
Facebook is under fire over an alleged failure to tackle hate speech. Picture: Getty

Data from the Facebook Ad Library shows that the party spent £1,226,524 on more than 9,000 Facebook adverts between October 2018 and the start of July 2020, including £25,000 since April.

The party ran at least 30 adverts in the last fortnight of June, totalling hundreds of pounds. 

Facebook is under growing pressure to tackle hate speech on its platforms, which include Instagram and WhatsApp, following the death of Mr Floyd, an unarmed African American, in US police custody - which has shined a torch on global racial injustice.

The “Stop Hate for Profit” boycott is formed of a coalition of US-based non-profits and has urged companies to suspend their spending on the platform for the month of July.

The World Federation of Advertisers revealed last month that almost a third of advertisers - 58 - were considering joining the month-long boycott. 

In an interview on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Tuesday, Facebook’s UK head, Steve Hatch, was questioned about the top post in the US calling racially motivated policing a “myth” on the day protests over the killing of Mr Floyd began.

“We have no tolerance on our platform for hate speech. Of course, it’s incredibly hard and upsetting to read that,” he said.

He added: “But equally, whether it is directed at creating hate, and real world harm in particular … The way that we define real-world harm is if it’s going to create imminent risk to people."

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