To say 2020 has been a difficult year is an understatement, but the challenges faced by social media giant Facebook have been substantial.
From global brands pulling ad spend and urging the social network to toughen its stance on hate speech, to the spread of Covid-19 misinformation and the pressing need to regulate content relating to the fiercely contested US presidential election, 2020 has been nothing short of eventful.
“The unusual thing about it from our perspective is that when there’s people levelling things at you, normally it’s because you disagree with what they say, or that you have a fundamentally different goal or ambition. That is not the case when it comes to Facebook,” vice-president for EMEA, Nicola Mendelsohn, tells Marketing Week.
“It’s also worth saying for the vast majority of people coming onto our platforms every day, they are having a great experience on Facebook. That’s why they come back. Sometimes it’s felt like there’s content on there that isn’t right and that is true, and we’ve been very clear to say that we’re not going to get everything every time, but we can absolutely have a zero tolerance for it – not zero occurrence, but we can have zero tolerance.”
More than 1,000 companies joined the advertising boycott in support of the ‘Stop Hate for Profit’ campaign in July, including the likes of Coca-Cola, Starbucks and Unilever. The FMCG giant said continuing to advertise on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram during the Stop Hate for Profit campaign would “not add value to people and society”, while Coca-Cola demanded “greater accountability and transparency” from all social media firms.
Mendelsohn explains hate speech is an area the company takes “incredibly seriously” and has invested billions in tackling, including employing 35,000 people to work specifically on taking down offensive content. Reflecting on the impact of the summer’s ad spend boycott, Mendelsohn says it has shown Facebook the need to better explain what it is doing to combat hate speech.