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.
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.”
“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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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.
“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.”
“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.
“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.
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.
“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.
How to prepare your Facebook account for your digital afterlife
Today, our online lives are where we share a lot of private and personal information, especially on social media platforms where we share many of our thoughts, post photos and videos over the time we have spent online. Among these social media platforms, Facebook is the most used social media service today. A lot of us, our friends and our family members have a Facebook account. We post and share everything from our private photos to a personal message via Facebook.
But have you wondered what happens to your Facebook account and the information (like posts, comments, photos, videos, etc.) that you have created and accumulated on the service after your time?
■ What will happen to my account?
■ Who can access your profiles?
■ Who will own your account and data?
■ How to manage it when such a time comes?
Facebook has added features to your account so that you can decide what happens to your account when such a time arises. Follow the steps given below to set it up and ensure that the information in your Facebook accounts is handed over to someone else safely or managed according to your choice.
Setting up Facebook’s legacy contact:
In the case of Facebook, you can choose to memorialise your account and hand over the control to a ‘Legacy contact’ of your choice or altogether delete your profile after your time.
Step 1: To set up your legacy contact, you can visit the ‘Settings & privacy’ option under your profile and select the ‘Memorialisation settings’ under ‘General Account settings’. You can also sign in to your account and visit https://www.facebook.com/settings to access this setting.
Step 2: Now, you can choose a legacy contact in this setting by searching for and adding a friend from your account as your legacy contact. Do note that, once memorialised, the legacy contact can only moderate the posts on your page and not post on your behalf.
Step 3: The following setting is to choose whether to allow your legacy contact to download all your data that you have created or shared on your Facebook account like posts, photos, videos etc.
Step 4: The final setting on this page could be considered an alternative to choosing a legacy contact. This setting is to delete your complete Facebook account once you pass away. Facebook needs to be informed about your death and requires verifying it with valid documentation to activate this feature. The company will delete all your information on Facebook on completion of this process.
To know more about these settings, you can visit the FAQ page on legacy contact.
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Big EU lawsuit against Facebook morphs into 3-year ‘partnership’ with complainants
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Three years ago, a group of EU consumer agencies launched a multi-country lawsuit against Facebook, accusing the social media giant of having illegally harvested the data of millions of users.
More than 300,000 angry Facebook users positioned themselves behind the collective action suit, which promised to award them individual monetary damages if the company was found guilty of wrongdoing.
On Friday, those lawsuits quietly morphed into a brand new partnership with Facebook.
Euroconsumers, the umbrella organization behind the Spanish, Italian, Belgian and Portuguese lawsuits, announced they were entering a partnership with the company focused on the “safety and privacy” of Facebook users.
The move comes after POLITICO reported that Euroconsumers had settled its lawsuit with Facebook at the end of April — and highlights the fact that collective action lawsuits rarely make it over the finish line in Europe, sheltering companies from the type of action that can produce crippling damages in U.S. courts while leaving consumers with little recourse.
Originally, Euroconsumers had told people who joined the case it would seek compensation of €200 for every Facebook user whose data was mishandled.
In the end, though, there will be no court decision, no admission of wrongdoing by Facebook and no direct payment from the company to consumers as a result of the settlement, according to Euroconsumers.
Instead, the consumer groups and Facebook said they were forming a joint committee focused on three priorities: sustainability, digital empowerment and fighting scams. The issue of privacy — which was the explicit focus of the lawsuit — is the “umbrella” under which the thee priorities fall.
As for the consumers, they are being promised a vague consolation prize.
The four consumer groups said they would commit to “reward” consumers who joined the original lawsuit with “a package to help consumers be safe online” — but no hard cash.
Asked whether Facebook had paid money to Euroconsumers in the settlement, the group declined to comment. POLITICO reached out to Facebook, but the company didn’t give an immediate response apart from the press release.
Meanwhile, the committee isn’t committed to producing any specific results.
“There are specific initiatives in the making, but there will also be a consumer reporting channel. We will able to report problems that emerge, like feedback from our members,” said Els Bruggeman, head of policy at Euroconsumers.
A spokesperson for the group said: “It’s the moment to try to influence the reasoning from companies who are managed far away.”
Legally speaking, though, the heat is off Facebook.
The consumer groups will evaluate their collaboration in three years.
“An agreement for one year would be too short. Three years is long enough to be able to evaluate. There will be a lot of changes in the digital world in that period,” added the spokesperson.
In the meantime, a change in legislation may give future collective action lawsuits in Europe more teeth: A directive finalized late last year could lead to bigger pan-European collective redress cases.
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Russian watchdog demands that Facebook delete post insulting WWII veterans
MOSCOW, May 29. /TASS/. Russia’s Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology, and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor) demanded that US company Facebook delete an Instagram post that insults the memory of World War II veterans, the watchdog said on its website on Friday.
“Roskomnadzor has sent a letter to Facebook Inc top management, demanding that content insulting the memory of World War II veterans be deleted,” the watchdog said. “The governmental agency found the unlawful post on the Instagram social network, owned by Facebook.”
According to Roskomnadzor, publication of clearly offensive information that insults Russia’s military glory and memorable dates, or desecrates military glory symbols, or offends WWII veterans constitutes a criminal offense in Russia and is subject to criminal proscution.