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Facebook Is Worried Starbucks May Delete Its Page Over Hateful Comments

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Facebook is scrambling to prevent Starbucks from leaving its platform after the world’s largest coffee company said it was dismayed by hateful comments left on its posts about racial and social justice issues.

In internal discussions seen by BuzzFeed News, Facebook employees who manage the social network’s relationship with Starbucks wrote that the company has become so frustrated by the hate and intolerance on the platform that it may remove its Facebook page. Were Starbucks to do so, it would be one of the largest companies ever to sever ties with Facebook.

“Starbucks is in the process of evaluating their organic presence on FB, and whether they should continue to have a presence on the platform at all,” a Facebook employee wrote to their colleagues earlier this week. “Anytime they post (organically) in regards to social issues or their mission & values work (e.g. BLM, LGBTQ, sustainability/climate change, etc.) they are overwhelmed by negative/insensitive, hate speech related comments on their posts.”

The employee went on to note that Starbucks’s community management team has struggled to moderate hateful responses and is unable to disable comments on their page. They also relayed a series of questions from Starbucks management, which sought to understand how Facebook’s algorithms moderated or amplified comments on posts.

Starbucks’s reevaluation of its Facebook presence comes amid a wider reckoning of the hate and misinformation that continues to proliferate on the platform. Last week in the United Kingdom, the Premier League and its 20 associated soccer teams boycotted Facebook and its photo-sharing app, Instagram, for four days in an attempt to bring awareness to the constant racist abuse that players face on those platforms. Last year, Starbucks was one of hundreds of companies to stop advertising on Facebook as part of the “Stop Hate for Profit” campaign, which sought to pressure the world’s largest social network into taking a harder stance on racist and hateful content.

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Starbucks spokesperson Sanja Gould would not confirm if the company was considering removing its Facebook page, but said in a statement that the coffee corporation stands “against hate speech.”

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“While some changes have been implemented, we believe more can be done to create welcoming and inclusive online communities,” she said about Facebook in a statement. “We work collaboratively with all companies we do business with to ensure any advertising done on our behalf is in alignment with our brand standards.”

In a statement, Facebook spokesperson Dani Lever said that Facebook offers “tools to limit this content from appearing on partners’ pages including ways for brands to control those who can comment on their posts.”

“Our teams work with our clients around the world on various issues and as this post shows we are working with them to keep hate off of their pages,” she said.

While plenty of companies have paused advertising on Facebook to make a statement, those moves have done little to dent a business that, even after the Stop Hate for Profit campaign, recorded a record $86 billion in revenue in 2020.

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Do you work at Facebook or another technology company? We’d love to hear from you. Reach out to ryan.mac@buzzfeed.com or via one of our tip line channels.

In 2018, amid privacy scandals and a #DeleteFacebook campaign supported by Brian Acton, a cofounder of the Facebook-owned WhatsApp, Elon Musk took down the Facebook pages for his companies Tesla and SpaceX. To date, Musk’s companies have remained off Facebook but still maintain Instagram accounts.

Jim Steyer, the CEO of Common Sense Media, one of the organizations behind the Stop Hate for Profit campaign, called last year’s boycott effective only in the short term. Noting that Facebook was in some ways “too big to boycott,” he saw Starbucks’s possible pullout as a harbinger of other companies reconsidering their relationships with social media.

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“This will be a day of reckoning for Facebook, and Starbucks is just one example of a company that is dealing with the fallout of their decisions, or lack thereof,” he said.

While Starbucks has faced previous criticism for prohibiting its employees from showing support for Black Lives Matter, the company regularly posts about social justice issues on its Facebook page. Those posts, however, have become a honeypot for angry, and sometimes racist, followers who don’t agree with the company’s positions on political and social matters.

“We have been and continue to remove comments and users who post racist comments and attacks against the Black community,” Starbucks wrote under a Feb. 1 post that quoted a Black employee discussing her Breonna Taylor memorial. “During Black History Month, we’ll be amplifying Black voices, highlighting Starbucks partners (employees) who are inspired by purpose, family and entrepreneurship, encouraging us all to keep moving forward.”

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“You mean you will be censoring posts that don’t fit your narrative.. Ok, see how that works out for you,” one person replied. “I love starbucks actually but your post has nothing to do with COFFEE!”

Other posts about racism received similar responses. When the company spoke of its support of Black Lives Matter last June, commenters demanded respect for police officers. When Starbucks posted in support of Asian Americans on March 17, the day after six Asian Americans were shot and killed in spas in the Atlanta area, commenters insisted the attack was not motivated by race.

“Wasn’t about race…sorry! You know white people of European decent, are targeted constantly, everyday!!!!” one person wrote.

“Y’all still stand with plain old Americans? Or just minorities who identify to create a narrative?” said another.

On June 25 last year, Starbucks posted a video in support of LGBTQ allies. In it, queer employees call and thank people in their lives who supported them as they grappled with their identity and coming out. Some comments were positive and expressed support, but others berated the coffee chain.

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“Until I see ALL LIVES MATTER I will not be buying any more Starbucks ! I was a regular a customer . Brought my kids even my dogs . But now it’s about an agenda . Cheers,” said one comment on the video.

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Three days later, Starbucks announced it would pause advertising across social media, including on Facebook, in a bid to “stand against hate speech.” It ended in September after the coffee chain said in a blog post that it had “spent the last two months in meaningful discussions with key internal and external stakeholders to help [Starbucks] create a principled approach to our demands of the social media industry.”

The company wrote, “We will hold our media partners accountable to the commitments they have made and will reserve the right to revisit our ad placement strategy to ensure continued progress towards a more civil online environment.”

At Facebook, some who work with Starbucks’s social media team fear the company may move beyond pulling its ads and remove its page completely. According to Starbucks’s annual report, it spent more than $258 million in advertising globally last year.

Rashad Robinson, the president of Color of Change, a civil rights organization, said he was encouraged by the idea that Starbucks would leave but noted that change won’t happen just “by corporations stopping advertising.” He called for lawmakers to act and impose laws to regulate the company.

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“I can see other companies joining Starbucks — but unless Facebook is accountable to a set of rules and standards, then their exit from Facebook won’t change Facebook,” Robinson said.

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Updating Special Ad Audiences for housing, employment, and credit advertisers

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On June 21, 2022 we announced an important settlement with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that will change the way we deliver housing ads to people residing in the US. Specifically, we are building into our ads system a method designed to make sure the audience that ends up seeing a housing ad more closely reflects the eligible targeted audience for that ad.

As part of this agreement, we will also be sunsetting Special Ad Audiences, a tool that lets advertisers expand their audiences for ad sets related to housing. We are choosing to sunset this for employment and credit ads as well. In 2019, in addition to eliminating certain targeting options for housing, employment and credit ads, we introduced Special Ad Audiences as an alternative to Lookalike Audiences. But the field of fairness in machine learning is a dynamic and evolving one, and Special Ad Audiences was an early way to address concerns. Now, our focus will move to new approaches to improve fairness, including the method previously announced.

What’s happening: We’re removing the ability to create Special Ad Audiences via Ads Manager beginning on August 25, 2022.

Beginning October 12th, 2022, we will pause any remaining ad sets that contain Special Ad Audiences. These ad sets may be restarted once advertisers have removed any and all Special Ad Audiences from those ad sets. We are providing a two month window between preventing new Special Ad Audiences and pausing existing Special Ad Audiences to enable advertisers the time to adjust budgets and strategies as needed.

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For more details, please visit our Newsroom post.

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Impact to Advertisers using Marketing API on September 13, 2022

For advertisers and partners using the API listed below, the blocking of new Special Ad Audience creation will present a breaking change on all versions. Beginning August 15, 2022, developers can start to implement the code changes, and will have until September 13, 2022, when the non-versioning change occurs and prior values are deprecated. Refer below to the list of impacted endpoints related to this deprecation:

For reading audience:

  • endpoint gr:get:AdAccount/customaudiences
  • field operation_status

For adset creation:

  • endpoint gr:post:AdAccount/adsets
  • field subtype

For adset editing:

  • endpoint gr:post:AdCampaign
  • field subtype

For custom audience creation:

  • endpoint gr:post:AdAccount/customaudiences
  • field subtype

For custom audience editing:

  • endpoint gr:post:CustomAudience

Please refer to the developer documentation for further details to support code implementation.

First seen at developers.facebook.com

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Introducing an Update to the Data Protection Assessment

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Over the coming year, some apps with access to certain types of user data on our platforms will be required to complete the annual Data Protection Assessment. We have made a number of improvements to this process since our launch last year, when we introduced our first iteration of the assessment.

The updated Data Protection Assessment will include a new developer experience that is enhanced through streamlined communications, direct support, and clear status updates. Today, we’re sharing what you can expect from these new updates and how you can best prepare for completing this important privacy requirement if your app is within scope.

If your app is in scope for the Data Protection Assessment, and you’re an app admin, you’ll receive an email and a message in your app’s Alert Inbox when it’s time to complete the annual assessment. You and your team of experts will then have 60 calendar days to complete the assessment. We’ve built a new platform that enhances the user experience of completing the Data Protection Assessment. These updates to the platform are based on learnings over the past year from our partnership with the developer community. When completing the assessment, you can expect:

  • Streamlined communication: All communications and required actions will be through the My Apps page. You’ll be notified of pending communications requiring your response via your Alerts Inbox, email, and notifications in the My Apps page.

    Note: Other programs may still communicate with you through the App Contact Email.

  • Available support: Ability to engage with Meta teams via the Support tool to seek clarification on the questions within the Data Protection Assessment prior to submission and help with any requests for more info, or to resolve violations.

    Note: To access this feature, you will need to add the app and app admins to your Business Manager. Please refer to those links for step-by-step guides.

  • Clear status updates: Easy to understand status and timeline indicators throughout the process in the App Dashboard, App Settings, and My Apps page.
  • Straightforward reviewer follow-ups: Streamlined experience for any follow-ups from our reviewers, all via developers.facebook.com.

We’ve included a brief video that provides a walkthrough of the experience you’ll have with the Data Protection Assessment:

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We’re having trouble playing this video.

The Data Protection Assessment elevates the importance of data security and helps gain the trust of the billions of people who use our products and services around the world. That’s why we are committed to providing a seamless experience for our partners as you complete this important privacy requirement.

Here is what you can do now to prepare for the assessment:

  1. Make sure you are reachable: Update your developer or business account contact email and notification settings.
  2. Review the questions in the Data Protection Assessment and engage with your teams on how best to answer these questions. You may have to enlist the help of your legal and information security points of contact to answer some parts of the assessment.
  3. Review Meta Platform Terms and our Developer Policies.

We know that when people choose to share their data, we’re able to work with the developer community to safely deliver rich and relevant experiences that create value for people and businesses. It’s a privilege we share when people grant us access to their data, and it’s imperative that we protect that data in order to maintain and build upon their trust. This is why the Data Protection Assessment focuses on data use, data sharing and data security.

Data privacy is challenging and complex, and we’re dedicated to continuously improving the processes to safeguard user privacy on our platform. Thank you for partnering with us as we continue to build a safer, more sustainable platform.

First seen at developers.facebook.com

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Resources for Completing App Store Data Practice Questionnaires for Apps That Include the Facebook or Audience Network SDK

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Resources for Completing App Store Data Practice Questionnaires for Apps That Include the Facebook or Audience Network SDK

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