Facebook Will Label Posts From Politicians That May Violate Policies

"The investments we have made in AI mean that we find almost 90% of Hate Speech we action before users report it to us, while a recent European Union report found Facebook assessed more hate speech reports in 24 hours than Twitter and YouTube", the company said in a statement.

Facebook will prohibit more hate speech in ads, including political ads, such as claims that people from a specific group - be it race, immigration status or sexual orientation - are a threat.

Unilever is halting all ad spending on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in the US through the end of the year, the company said, in a marked departure for a company that has avoided prior digital media boycotts.

Verizon is joining an escalating movement to siphon advertising away from Facebook in an effort to pressure the company into doing more to prevent racist and violent information from being shared on its social networking service. Facebook took its biggest hit yet on Friday as the household goods giant Unilever announced it is pulling its ads from Facebook and Instagram through at least the end of the year.

"A handful of times a year we make a decision to leave up content that would otherwise violate our policies because we consider that the public interest value outweighs the risk of that content", Zuckerberg said in the town hall.

"Often, seeing speech from politicians is in the public interest, and in the same way that news outlets will report what a politician says, we think people should generally be able to see it for themselves on our platforms", he wrote.

Social media companies are under an especially bright spotlight this year in the lead up to the 2020 presidential election, facing pressure to control hate speech and misinformation on their sites - something that still haunts them from rampant disinformation that spread online during the 2016 campaign.

He said users will be allowed to share the content "but we'll add a prompt to tell people that the content they're sharing may violate our policies".

To clarify one point: there is no newsworthiness exemption to content that incites violence or suppresses voting. We have developed policies and platform capabilities created to protect and serve the public conversation, and as always, are committed to amplifying voices from underrepresented communities and marginalized groups.

He did not directly address Unilever's announcement nor the #StopHateForProfit boycott campaign organized by civil rights groups.

Facebook plunged as much as 8.6 per cent, the most intraday since March, while Twitter shares fell as much as 8.2 per cent.

While Zuckerberg did not mention the boycott directly, it was clear from the policies he outlined that Facebook is trying to appease its critics. Other companies, like Ben & Jerry's and North Face, have also stopped advertising on Facebook in the last two weeks. The company also said it is increasing its enforcement capacity to remove false claims about local polling conditions in the 72 hours before the US election.

Zuckerberg has faced criticism from activist and civil rights for not taking greater steps to remove incendiary content. "If this is the response he's giving to major advertisers withdrawing millions of dollars from the company, we can't trust his leadership".

Nicole Perrin, analyst at eMarketer, said it will be hard to determine the financial impact of the boycott on Facebook, given the significant changes in advertising amid the pandemic.