The Facebook advertising boycott has changed everyone's favorite social media platform forever
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Sometimes a boycott succeeds when it fails.

Although the general aim of a boycott is to hurt profits, there are times when the symbolism of a boycott gives birth to a constant, overt and irreversible new optic for a company to nurse.

When the boycott of Facebook began in June and reached its peak in July, it gathered thousands of brands who vocalized their dissatisfaction with the platform.

The boycott, under the hashtag #StopHateForProfit, was launched by civil rights groups. By July brands were fully behind removing their ad spending - resulting in a small financial dent for the social media juggernaut, but a forceful bludgeoning in the press.



Although Facebook still saw growth during the boycott, the social network was left with no choice but to address its own long standing apathy towards hate speech and disinformation. With copious amounts of money constantly flowing through the company, it's clear that in many ways the Facebook executive team see their reputation among activists and the public as a more elusive form of intangible capital.

Intangible capital that they cannot afford to burn through at the rate they currently are.

Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg once again attempted to rebuff the assertions that Facebook has done little to stem hate speech and misinformation on their platform.

"Some seem to wrongly assume that most of the content on our services is about politics, news, misinformation or hate," Zuckerberg said.

"These make up a small part of the content on our services, although they are all things that people generally tell us they'd like to see even less of. We do not profit from misinformation or hate," he continued.

"We completely agree that we don't want hate on our platforms, and we stand firmly against it," Sandberg said. "We don't benefit from hate speech. We never have. Users don't want to see it. Advertisers don't want to be associated with it."

This is a lie.

Many of Facebooks top performing posts, advertisements and public figures peddle a deluge of white supremacy, conspiracy theories, homophobia, misogyny, death threats, coronavirus misinformation and just about every other form of information that can be mangled and weaponized for public consumption.

However, Facebook has more recently made one symbolic step towards something resembling integrity.

Facebook took down a video posted by the Trump campaign in which he claimed children were "virtually immune" to the coronavirus. This is generally regarded by the majority of health experts as completely false and flies in the face of any basic level of logical thought. The reason for it being removed from Facebook was due to it being in violation of the social network's rules against misinformation about coronavirus. This represents a positive small step forward for the social media giant, a small step in a marathon of decency that should have been started over a decade ago.

The boycott began what will be a series of future reality checks for Facebook, as they can no longer plead ignorance or impartiality. In a statement, the boycott organizers said, "This movement will not go away until Facebook makes the reasonable changes that society wants. The ad pause in July was not a full campaign — it was a warning shot across Facebook's bow."

The fact is, despite what Zuckerberg and Sandberg would have you believe, that Facebook is molding the national consciousness and finds itself dangerously close to irrevocably poisoning the body politic.

There is a small window within which to salvage what integrity remains, but consistently denying their own faults does nothing to begin this vital process.

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Who would have thought that giving the world access to all human knowledge via the internet, the ability to follow and hear from experts on any subject via social media, and the ability to see what's happening anywhere in the world via smartphones with cameras would result in a terrifying percentage of the population believing and spouting nothing but falsehoods day in and day out?

Those of us who value facts, reason, and rational thought have found ourselves at some of our fellow citizens and thinking, "Really? THIS is how you choose to use the greatest tool humanity has ever created? To spew unfounded conspiracy theories?"

It's a marvel, truly.

Between Coronavirus/Bill Gates/5G conspiracies and QAnon/Evil Cabal/Pedophile conspiracies, I thought we were pretty much full up on kooky for 2020. But apparently not. The massive fires up and down the West Coast have ignited even more conspiracy theories, some of which local law enforcement and even the FBI have had to debunk.

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In 1945, the world had just endured the bloodiest war in history. World leaders were determined to not repeat the mistakes of the past. They wanted to build a better future, one free from the "scourge of war" so they signed the UN Charter — creating a global organization of nations that could deter and repel aggressors, mediate conflicts and broker armistices, and ensure collective progress.

Over the following 75 years, the UN played an essential role in preventing, mitigating or resolving conflicts all over the world. It faced new challenges and new threats — including the spread of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, a Cold War and brutal civil wars, transnational terrorism and genocides. Today, the UN faces new tensions: shifting and more hostile geopolitics, digital weaponization, a global pandemic, and more.

This slideshow shows how the UN has worked to build peace and security around the world:

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Malians wait in line at a free clinic run by the UN Multidimensional Integrated Mission in Mali in 2014. Over their 75 year history, UN peacekeepers have deployed around the world in military and nonmilitary roles as they work towards human security and peace. Here's a look back at their history.

Photo credit: UN Photo/Marco Dormino

I worked as a substitute teacher in my early 20s, almost exclusively in middle schools and high schools—my age of specialty. Once, I accepted a two-day subbing assignment in a first grade classroom. Only once. Halfway through the first day, as the kids ate lunch in the cafeteria, I sat at the teacher's desk in an exhausted daze. Teaching little kids was a completely different animal than teaching big kids. While adorable, they had so many needs and so little attention span. It was like herding a bunch of flies that constantly needed to go potty.

Trying to herd those flies virtually during a pandemic is too much to even fathom.

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Katie Neeves (L) photo by Jayne Walsh, JK Rowling (R) photo by Sjhill, CC BY-SA 3.0

Dear JK Rowling,

I am writing this letter to say a big thank you to you. You may think it strange that a gobby trans woman such as me would wish to thank you after all your recent transphobic outpourings, but let me explain…

I certainly don't thank you for your lengthy essay last month where you describe the abuse you have suffered (for which you have my sympathy) and in which you stated that you do not hate trans people, while at the same time peddling even more anti-trans mis-information. Sadly, your diatribe directly caused some trans children to self-harm and other to attempt suicide.

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