CMA joins call for Facebook to address the spread of hate content and misinformation

One of Canada’s largest marketing associations has joined the growing list of voices demanding that Facebook make changes to stop the spread of hate content on its platform.

The Canadian Marketing Association announced last week it has reached out to Facebook to start a conversation about some of the key issues being raised as part of the #StopHateForProfit advertising boycott.

“We have offered to help Facebook implement necessary platform changes in Canada to eliminate hate speech that divides people, contributes to racism and violence and undermines democracy,” reads the CMA statement.

The CMA has had some preliminary discussions with Facebook about how it could facilitate changes that would address advertiser and consumer concerns while also benefiting Facebook, said president and CEO John Wiltshire.

“We have been in conversation with the head of Facebook Canada [Garrick Tiplady] and we are still trying to determine exactly what a facilitation might look like. We haven’t come to a conclusion on that yet,” Wiltshire told The Message. 

While declining to comment on the CMA outreach, Facebook Canada said its leaders are “spending time with clients and others to discuss the progress we’ve made on the key issues of concern.”

Hate speech and other toxic content on social platforms has been a concern for some time, but the issue has become a more pressing for marketers in recent weeks.

New data collected by Delvinia from its AskingCanadians platform found that 84% of consumers agree that hate speech and misinformation is an issue on social platforms, while 78% said they believe advertisers should withhold ad budgets from platforms that don’t take meaningful steps to eliminate hate speech, said Wiltshire.

Two-thirds of respondents said they would be less likely to purchase products from a company whose ads appear near hateful content. “This has become an issue for consumers where they are looking at us to all stand together against hate,” said Wiltshire.

While no next steps have been set, Wiltshire believes the CMA, as a group that represents brands, agencies and media, can play a useful role as a facilitator and presenting consensus views on key topics.

“The reality of the matter is we want a positive outcome for Facebook,” he said. “Facebook has become a utility [that] we’ve all gotten used to using, they’ve done some fantastic things to keep society together during COVID, but on the topic of hate, we need to see some improvement.

“The key issue is, what degree of progress would be required for Canadian advertisers to proceed with using Facebook as a media outlet…and I think we have a very large role we could play on this issue.”

Meanwhile the Association of Canadian Advertisers is also calling on social platforms to do more to fight “hate, racism, violence, discrimination and misleading information on their sites.”

ACA president and CEO Ron Lund said the association provided recent guidance to its members who are concerned about the issue. Those recommended actions included:

  • Create or review their company’s advertising standards and policies within the context of this issue. Revise, as necessary, to address the current concerns of social media platforms, if not all media.
  • Consider what more they expect from their social media partners to reduce the proliferation of hate, racism, violence, discrimination and misleading information on their sites.
  • Articulate their expectations within their company, and with their agency and social media partners on transparency, accountability and action on the same.
David Brown