Common Core State Standard
SL.CCS.1/2/3/4 Grades 6-12: An essay of a current news event is provided for discussion to encourage participation, but also inspire the use of evidence to support logical claims using the main ideas of the article. Students must analyze background information provided about a current event within the news, draw out the main ideas and key details, and review different opinions on the issue. Then, students should present their own claims using facts and analysis for support.

FOR THE WEEK OF JULY 13, 2020

Major advertisers boycott Facebook over allowing hate speech

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More than 400 brands, including huge ones such as Coca-Cola and Starbucks, suspend their ads on Facebook this month in a boycott protesting its "repeated failure to meaningfully address the vast proliferation of hate on its platforms." Amid a national focus on fighting racism, the NAACP and other civil rights groups enlisted major advertisers in an effort to pressure the social media giant into effective steps against bigotry and support for violence. "Let's send Facebook a powerful message: Your profits will never be worth promoting hate, bigotry, racism, antisemitism and violence," says the #StopHateForProfit campaign. NAACP president Derrick Johnson calls Facebook "a breeding ground for racial hate groups." Goals include assuring that severely harassed users can speak to a Facebook employee and giving refunds to brands whose ads show up next to offensive content that's later removed.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg spoke last week via Zoom with boycott leaders, who also include representatives of the Anti-Defamation League, which fights anti-Semitism against Jewish people, and Color of Change, an online racial justice group with 1.7 million members. The groups want Facebook to ban political ads with blatant lies, which the company has faced criticism for allowing in the past. The executives failed to satisfy critics during the video call, which exceeded an hour. Zuckerberg, Sandberg and others tried to "spin" the situation, says Jessica J. González, a boycott coordinator. "The company's leaders delivered the same old talking points to try to placate us without meeting our demands."

Facebook hesitates to censor political speech, it says. "We believe there is a public interest in allowing a wider range of free expression in people's posts than in paid ads," Zuckerberg posted late last month. He also spoke of "maintaining our democratic traditions around free expression." In a recent memo to advertisers, which at least one of them leaked to CNBC, global business vice president Carolyn Everson wrote: "Boycotting in general is not the way for us to make progress together. . . . I also really hope by now you know that we do not make policy changes tied to revenue pressure. We set our policies based on principles rather than business interests." At the same time, the social media giant announced new steps to flag problematic political posts and expand its hate speech policies.

Boycott goals include getting Facebook to hire a top-level executive with "deep" civil rights experience to assess products and policies for discrimination, bias and hate -- the only thing Zuckerberg and Sandberg agreed to do during last week's Zoom discussion. The organizers also urge the company to remove public and private groups focused on hate or violent conspiracies. Boycott participants include Ben & Jerry's, Hershey's, Denny's, Verizon, Patagonia, REI and The North Face. "The boycott has emerged as a crucial test for a company that has become a key player in American politics," says coverage at Politico, an influential news site.

Facebook says: "We may never be able to prevent hate from appearing on Facebook entirely, but we are getting better at stopping it." – Nick Clegg, vice president of global affairs and communications

Advertiser says: "I just canceled our upcoming Facebook ad campaign. Their leadership has chosen to look the other way, supposedly in the name of free speech, as highly visible and incendiary statements are amplified on their platform." – Sara Spivey, chief marketing officer of Braze, a New York City software firm

Boycott critic says: "What constitutes hateful content is open to wide interpretation. And the people generally doing the interpreting are far more likely to find posts from conservatives hateful than they are those from liberals." – Nolan Finley, Detroit News opinion editor

Front Page Talking Points is written by Alan Stamm for NIEonline.com, Copyright 2020
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