Amid growing pressure from liberal advertisers, Mark Zuckerberg has decided that the platform would ‘curb free speech’ and remove content that does not adhere to its ‘community standards’ even if they are newsworthy. This means, posts by right-wing politicians like Donald Trump, Jair Bolsonaro, and closer of those like Kapil Mishra, will be removed from the platform or flagged.
“We’ll allow people to share this content to condemn it, just like we do with other problematic content, because this is an important part of how we discuss what’s acceptable in our society – but we’ll add a prompt to tell people that the content they’re sharing may violate our policies,” wrote Zuckerberg in a Facebook post. “There are no exceptions for politicians in any of the policies I’m announcing here today,” he added.
In the last few weeks, many American companies boycotted Facebook advertisements for not removing the posts by Donald Trump, President of the United States. Most of these companies belong to Democrat supporter camp and want Joe Biden to become the next POTUS by defeating incumbent Trump. Therefore, these companies want Trump to not reach a large audience through Facebook and Twitter, and are forcing these platforms to remove the posts by the American President by pulling up advertisement.
Unilever, the consumer giant which is also a leader of the Liberal camp in terms of advertisement, pulled out 42.4 million dollars in advertising from social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. The company said that it would not advertise for the rest of 2020, citing the election period.
Honda America, Coca-Cola, Levi Strauss, Verizon pulled up millions of dollars from Facebook advertisements for similar reasons. Facebook’s “failure to stop the spread of misinformation and hate speech on its platform” and saying that “this inaction fuels racism and violence and also has the potential to threaten our democracy and the integrity of our elections,” said Jen Sey, Chief Marking Officer of Levi Strauss.
Apart from these big advertisers, many smaller companies which use the platform to reach the target audience also pulled out money from advertisement. Facebook earns 77 million dollars from advertisements which is one of the major sources of its revenue. The boycott of the platform by advertisers cost the company billions of dollars in stock market valuation.
As per an estimate by Bloomberg, the shares of the company fell by 8.3 percent yesterday after Unilever announced a boycott of Facebook for advertisements. This means loss of 56 billion dollars to the company and 7.2 billion dollars to Mark Zuckerberg.
After the jolt of billions of dollars, Zuckerberg, who holds 40 percent voting rights in the company and therefore is the sole decision-maker, succumbed and announced that the company would expand its ad policy to “prohibit claims that people from a specific race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, caste, sexual orientation, gender identity or immigration status are a threat to the physical safety, health or survival of others.”
This effectively means posts by right-wing politicians would be removed and freedom of speech would be curbed because posts by them are discriminatory towards a number of people according to Facebook’s moral police’s “opinion”.
In the last few weeks, many activist groups such as launched a “stop hate for profit” campaign. The activist groups like Anti-defamation league, Color of Change, Black Lives Matter, all came together to oppose Trump’s re-election bid and force the companies to stop advertisements on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter if they do not remove posts from right-wing politicians. Companies like Twitter gave in to the pressure of these companies very early but Facebook stood with ‘Freedom of speech’ so far, however, with the loss of billions of dollars, Zuckerberg gas also caved.