Facebook Proves Once Again That Profits Trump Everything

The #StopTheHate4Profit campaign has taught us a lot about Facebook: The company is willing to change only cosmetically in pursuit of profit.
Posted in: BusinessOp-ed
Published:
June 28, 2020 3:30 PM UTC
  • Facebook is reeling from an advertiser boycott over its policies.
  • So far, the #StopHateForProfit campaign seems to be effective than #DeleteFacebook.
  • Mark Zuckerberg has consequently introduced some changes, but will they be enough?

Advertisers are fleeing Facebook in droves. Now, CEO Mark Zuckerberg says his platform will ban ads containing hate speech directed at religious, racial, or ethnic groups.

The crazy thing about Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) is you can still buy hate ads in the 21st century! Zuckerberg’s decision is based solely on trying to stop advertisers from exiting the platform. That’s a confirmation that the #StopHateForProfit” campaign is working. The campaign, which launched Wednesday, is a way to protest Facebook’s failure in dealing with hateful content.

Over 100 brands not advertising on Facebook

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has urged advertisers to use their power to enforce positive change on social media.

Before the #StopTheHateForProfit campaign, Pelosi reminded advertisers of their financial muscle. | Source: Twitter

Several companies have now pulled their ads from Facebook’s platforms. This includes Unilever, Verizon, Coca-Cola, Honda, Lending Club, and Lululemon.

While banning hateful ads is the right move, there is still the elephant in the room: hateful content.

As a testimony to how Facebook prioritizes profits above all else, the company will allow some content that violates its policies if it’s newsworthy or in the public interest. For such a violation, you merely get “flagged.”

The number of advertisers boycotting Facebook is growing by the day. | Source: Twitter

Why Facebook keeps hateful content up

Engagement is the oxygen that drives all social media platforms. Without it, Facebook would be digging a grave next to MySpace.

Facebook knows this all too well and prioritizes engaging content. The more engaging the content is, the more likely Facebook and other social media companies are to recommend it.

Facebook will, of course, argue that it is not a publisher. But it decides what to show users and what content gets amplified and recommended to other users.

Mark Zuckerberg’s argument that he is a defender of free speech is hollow. | Source: Twitter

Outrageous, divisive, hateful, or conspiratorial content enjoys high engagement. But Facebook amplifies this sort of material because more eyeballs mean more clicks on ads.

Everything is alright, nothing to see here

The social media giant understands how engagement works. And like with most scandals at Facebook, it has chosen to bury its head in the sand.

According to The Wall Street Journal, a presentation to senior executives two years ago, bluntly stated:

Our algorithms exploit the human brain’s attraction to divisiveness. If left unchecked, [Facebook would feed users] more and more divisive content in an effort to gain user attention & increase time on the platform.

Facebook’s newest moves are merely cosmetic and are designed to take heat away from the company. However, as long as hateful content exists on the platform, Facebook’s commitment to anything other than profit will be in question.

Mark Zuckerberg caves

Facebook’s ads boss Carolyn Everson recently defended the company just after the #StopHateForProfit” campaign was launched. She stated that the company’s policy decisions are based on a set of morals (surprisingly):

We do not make policy changes tied to revenue pressure. We set our policies based on principles rather than business interests.

Zuckerberg has now banned hate ads in a cynical attempt to take the heat off his back and deceive advertisers into thinking much has changed.

In that case, Everson is correct. Facebook has a principle that it strictly adheres–profit maximization.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of CCN.com.

Sam Bourgi edited this article for CCN.com. If you see a breach of our Code of Ethics or Rights and Duties of the Editor or find a factual, spelling, or grammar error, please contact us.

Last modified: June 28, 2020 1:30 PM UTC

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Mark Emem @wetalkmarkets

I cover business and the stock market for CCN. Currently based out of Nairobi, Kenya. Feel free to get in touch with me. Email: wetalkmarkets[at]yahoo.com