The leaders of four civil rights groups called for advertisers to continue boycotting Facebook on Tuesday after a meeting with the company’s top executives that left them feeling unconvinced of the social media giant’s commitment to stopping hate speech.
The virtual summit, which involved Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg and more than half a dozen other top executives, came weeks after the civil rights groups launched an the “Stop Hate For Profit” initiative that has spurred more than 900 companies, including Unilever, Coca-Cola, Microsoft and Starbucks, to halt advertising with the social media giant.
Jessica J. González, co-CEO of Free Press, a nonprofit organization that lobbies technology and media companies on behalf of people of color and underserved communities, said Facebook continues to avoid taking action.
“We’ve seen over and over again how it will do anything to duck accountability by firing up its powerful PR machine and trying to spin the news,” González said.
Jonathan Greenblatt, the chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, said the boycott “will continue to grow and it will get more global, and it will get more intense until we get the answers I think we are looking for.”
González, Greenblatt, NAACP CEO Derrick Johnson and Color Of Change President Rashad Robinson were all at the virtual meeting convened this afternoon, according to Free Press.
In a joint statement, the organizers said the company did not bring anything new to the meeting.
“Zuckerberg offered the same old defense of white supremacist, antisemitic, Islamophobic and other hateful groups on Facebook that the Stop Hate For Profit Coalitions, advertisers and society at large have heard too many times before,” the group said in its statement.
The organizers also said that Facebook was open to hiring someone in “a civil rights position but were unable to commit to the crucial piece of the position being at the C-suite level or what the requirements for the position will be.”
“However, they offered no attempt to respond to the other nine recommendations. Zuckerberg offered no automatic recourse for advertisers whose content runs alongside hateful posts,” the group said.
Facebook executives entered Tuesday’s meeting hoping to address the organizers’ concerns but had no plans to announce any major policy changes, several people familiar with their thinking told NBC News ahead of the meeting.
In a Facebook post put up before the meeting, Sandberg said whatever changes Facebook made would be made in response to its own civil rights audit, and “not for financial reasons or advertiser pressure, but because it is the right thing to do.”
The executives also expected the organizers to leave the meeting unsatisfied, given that Facebook would not meet their demands, which included having Facebook refund companies when their ads appeared next to hate speech, and forcing the company to hire a C-suite executive to oversee concerns about discrimination, bias and hate.
In addition to Zuckerberg and Sandberg, representatives from the Facebook side included Chief Product Officer Chris Cox, Vice President of Global Affairs Nick Clegg, Public Policy Director Neil Potts, Vice President of Global Marketing Solutions Carolyn Everson and Ime Archibong, head of new product experimentation.
“This isn’t over,” Free Press said in its statement. “We will continue to expand the boycott until Facebook takes our demands seriously. We won’t be distracted by Facebook’s spin today or any day. Mark, Sheryl and their colleagues have much work to do to make Facebook a better place for everyone, and they need to get it done now.”
Stacey Grier, chief marketing officer of The Clorox Company, urged Facebook to do more.
“We would ask Facebook to accelerate the timeline to make a significant and sustained decrease in hate speech and false information,” she said in a statement. “We would like to see advertisers have more transparency and control.”
The Facebook executives also held a second meeting Tuesday with other civil rights representatives who have been working closely with Facebook on civil rights issues, including Laura Murphy, their civil rights auditor, Vanita Gupta of the Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights, and Sherrilyn Ifill of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Two people at Facebook with knowledge of the meeting who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly described the second meeting as more productive than the first.