Facebook bows to ad boycotts and will block certain content

After initially refusing to budge, the social media platform is finally yielding to public pressure.

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaking to crowd

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Image source: Facebook.

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Amid a public outcry and a growing boycott by companies that advertise on its platform, Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) said it will begin to block content that violates the company's policies. In a post to his Facebook page on Friday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg shared new measures designed, as he said, "to connect people with authoritative information about voting, crack down on voter suppression, and fight hate speech."  

Zuckerberg also said Facebook would take down any post that incites violence or suppresses voting. "Even if a politician or government official says it, if we determine that content may lead to violence or deprive people of their right to vote, we will take that content down," he said. The company plans to label certain other posts that it deems "newsworthy" that might otherwise violate its policies.

In recent days, more than 90 marketers have joined a boycott of Facebook -- the "Stop Hate For Profit" campaign -- originally organised by the Anti-Defamation League, the NAACP, and other civil rights groups. The groups criticised Facebook for not providing more robust fact-checking and for failing to remove political posts containing false or misleading information. The platform has also been accused of being too lax on combating hate speech and not labelling inflammatory posts. 

The campaign seemed to hit a turning point late last week when a number of high-profile advertisers, including consumer goods giant Unilever (NYSE: UL), Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO), and Verizon (NYSE: VZ), joined the boycott. The defections continued over the weekend as Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX) and Diageo (NYSE: DEO) joined in. 

In a statement on the company's website, Starbucks said, "We will pause advertising on all social media platforms while we continue discussions internally, with our media partners and with civil rights organizations in the effort to stop the spread of hate speech." 

This article was originally published on Fool.com. All figures quoted in US dollars unless otherwise stated.

Danny Vena owns shares of Facebook and Starbucks. Randi Zuckerberg, a former director of market development and spokeswoman for Facebook and sister to its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. owns shares of and recommends Facebook. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended Facebook. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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