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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Facebook will continue to be the face of the biggest industry campaign against misinformation leading up to the election, according to Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League

Driving the news: In an interview with Axios, Greenblatt, whose group is part of the Stop Hate for Profit social media boycott campaign, said that the group plans to focus its boycott efforts on Facebook, because of its scale and because he says the company is less proactive than rivals like Twitter and YouTube on policing misinformation and hate speech.

  • He points to Twitter's ban on political advertising earlier this year and YouTube's ban on white supremacist accounts in June as examples in which those two platforms have led on fighting misinformation.
  • He says Facebook's handling of pages that advocated violence at protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, is an example of ways the platform is falling behind.
  • The organization entered the second phase of its campaign last week. Kim Kardashian West joined two dozen celebrities in temporarily freezing their Instagram and Facebook accounts for a day because the platforms "continue to allow the spreading of hate, propaganda and misinformation."

The big picture: In the past week, Spotify host Joe Rogan, Fox News and others have all had to apologize for misinformation mishaps.

The state of play: Facebook has spent the past four years trying to improve its security and content moderation systems to avoid being cast in the same light in 2020 as it was after 2016.

  • While it's led the industry in terms of certain issues, like advertising transparency, its scale and staunch free speech principles continue to make it a target for misinformation activists.

What they're saying: “Mr. Greenblatt is actively leading a campaign against us, so it's to his benefit to find new ways to single us out against our peer companies. This latest talking point, that we’re less proactive in addressing hate and misinformation than our peers, is simply untrue," Facebook said in a statement to Axios.

  • "We’re the only company that bans individuals and organizations from our services based on what they do offline - or on other platforms - when it comes to hate and violence and we’re the only company with a global network of over 70 fact-checkers," Facebook added.
  • "Don’t just take our word for it – a recent European Commission report found that Facebook assessed 95.7 percent of hate speech reports in less than 24 hours, faster than YouTube and Twitter. It is of course right that Facebook is put under pressure to do more. No one wants hate on our platforms, and we are conscious there is more to do. But that work should be based on facts - not false slogans."

What's next: Greenblatt says that for now, the campaign will focus on putting pressure on Facebook to make changes ahead of the U.S. election.

Go deeper

Jun 29, 2020 - Technology

Facebook boycott battle goes global

Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The Madison Avenue boycott against Facebook has quickly grown into a worldwide movement against the content moderation policies of social media giants.

Why it matters: The initial Facebook boycott among advertisers, prompted by Facebook's refusal to fact-check a post by President Trump, has hit a nerve amongst people outside of the marketing community, who think boycotting social media advertising altogether could help to create a healthier internet.

Dec 9, 2020 - Technology

The search for misinformation's measure

Data: NewsWhip; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Facebook and other big online platforms insist they're removing more and more misinformation. But they can't say whether they're actually stemming the tide of lies, and neither can we, because the deluge turns out to be impossible to define or measure.

Why it matters: The tech companies mostly won't share data that would let researchers better track the scale, spread and impact of misinformation. So the riddle remains unsolved, and the platforms can't be held accountable.

What Matters 2020

How online ad targeting weaponizes political misinformation

Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Ad targeting is how Facebook, Google and other online giants won the internet. It's also key to understanding why these companies are being held responsible for warping elections and undermining democracy.

The big picture: Critics and tech companies are increasingly considering whether limiting targeting of political ads might be one way out of the misinformation maze.

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