Charities threaten to curb social media spending until ‘hate speech’ tackled

Laura Parnaby, PA

A group of UK charities has threatened to curb spending on social media engagement if platforms like Facebook do not tackle hate speech.

Some 37 charities – including Barnardo’s, Mind, and Parkinson’s UK – are together reviewing how social media giants could reduce hate speech on their sites.

This comes as a growing list of global firms including Starbucks, Coca Cola, and Unilever have halted advertising on Facebook because of its failure to stand up against hate speech.

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Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg has come under fire for not taking action on the matter, keeping up a post by Donald Trump, in which the president said “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”, during protests across the US over the death of George Floyd.

Now many UK charities have said they will recommend changes that social media sites should make, adding they will not tolerate discrimination of any kind being given a voice through online platforms.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg leaving The Merrion Hotel in Dublin with head of global policy and communications Nick Clegg (Niall Carson/PA).

In a joint statement, they said: “As charities, we recognise that these platforms have a role to play in allowing us to connect with supporters and beneficiaries from all backgrounds.

“But we also know that not enough is being done to stop posts which incite hate and violence being made visible.

“No one should have to see these messages in their day to day lives, and especially not when trying to access ongoing information and support.

“We believe that it’s time for social media platforms to be better, and do better by the people who use them.

“It’s time for them to take action to make their platforms more inclusive, a place for connecting and debate, not hate.”

The statement added: “Together, we will take stock of what’s happening, scaling back our social media spend where we can, without it impacting our ability to deliver vital services.”

Other signatories include Friends of the Earth, Help for Heroes, Teach First, and Pancreatic Cancer UK.

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