A bunch of Facebook execs met with representatives of a group that is attempting to impose its will on the company by pressuring its commercial partners.
As it signaled a week ago, Facebook has taken the only sensible and sustainable stance it can in the face of a protracted bid by a political activist group to force it to censor the US President, which is to refuse its demands. While discussion around the possible effects of Trump’s distinctive communication style is perfectly valid, it’s not the place of social media platforms to censor him while he runs the country, nor of activists to attempt to force them to do so.
Nonetheless Facebook did decide to grant a meeting with the #StopHateForProfit campaign — who had already made it clear that nothing short of complete capitulation would suffice.
After the meeting — a member of an activist group affiliated with the campaign, which has the gall to call itself ‘Free Press’, posted a press release entitled ‘#StopHateForProfit Sees No Commitment to Action at Meeting Between Campaign Leaders and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg’.
The following comment was offered up from Free Press Co-CEO Jessica González, stating — “#StopHateForProfit didn’t hear anything today to convince us that Zuckerberg and his colleagues are taking action. Instead of committing to a timeline to root out hate and disinformation on Facebook, the company’s leaders delivered the same old talking points to try to placate us without meeting our demands.
Gonzalez continued, saying — “We stand with truth and justice, and have been through this enough times to know when Facebook is trying to play us. Often that looks like policies that look OK on their face but are un-enforced or under-enforced. For instance, last year Facebook pledged to curtail the spread of white nationalism over its platforms. Yet today I can log into Facebook and find groups that are dedicated to restoring symbols of the Confederacy and the violence and bigotry they represent, and Islamophobia still has a home in both private and public Facebook groups.”
At time of writing Telecoms.com could find no formal response to this release from Facebook, although COO Sheryl Sandberg did attempt to contextualize the meeting yesterday and has published a ‘civil rights audit’ report today. To date, most of the talking on behalf of #StopHateForProfit has been done by the ADL, and Telecoms.com had never heard of Free Press, which has the stated aim of changing the media, so Telecoms.com decided to take a closer look.
Free Press had a bumper 2019, more than doubling its revenues from the previous year to $4.6 million.
The not-for-profit, which is exempt from income tax, seemed to have no trouble finding a home for the extra cash, however, with compensation and benefits alone topping $3 million. It also seems odd that an apparently lobbying group didn’t spend a cent on lobbying.
González and her fellow execs each pocketed well over $100k – considerably more than most people employed by the media they seek to change.
According to their website — “Free Press is completely independent: We don’t take a single cent from business, government or political parties and rely on the generosity of individual donors and charitable foundations to fuel our work.” However — The generosity of three individual donors, which it doesn’t name in the accounts, accounted for over $3 million in 2019. It seems transparency has its limits, according to Telecoms.com.
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If Free Press does such great work that individuals are prepared to be so generous in their support, then good luck to them. However, as a member of the free press, we reserve the right to query the motives and objectives of an operation that seeks to manipulate all types of media in order to achieve its own political aims.
Yet another example of how @Facebook‘s attempts to placate advertisers, activists and users with words but absent meaningful actions are hollow. #StopHateForProfit #ChangeTheTerms https://t.co/VjdVjsXqYv
— Jessica J. González (@JGo4Justice) July 7, 2020