This July, Facebook’s lack of action in addressing hate speech has been under increasing global scrutiny as big businesses have boycotted advertising on the platform.
In response to this moment, Children on the Edge are joining forces with 36 other UK charities to challenge social networks to become safer and more inclusive environments. This has included the release of a joint statement and the formation of a working group to review these concerns for the sector and bring recommendations of potential change.
Children on the Edge fully support freedom of speech and recognise that social media can be a force for good. For us, it is a vital platform to communicate with our supporters, raise the profile of work and that of our international partners, and share the achievements and experiences of the communities we serve.
Like many others however, we are concerned at the failure of Facebook to adequately address the use of its platforms to spread and amplify misinformation and hate speech, increase division within society and promote violence.
We have not only seen a recent spike in racist comments on our Facebook ads, but have witnessed the serious ramifications of hate speech for the communities we work with. The unchecked use of the Facebook platform continues to incite casteist hatred and misinformation for the Dalits in India and was a significant catalyst in the fuelling of the 2017 Rohingya genocide.
In the joint statement, we have said:
“As charities, we recognise that these platforms have a role to play in allowing us to connect with supporters and beneficiaries from all backgrounds. But we also know that not enough is being done to stop posts which incite hate and violence being made visible...We believe that it’s time for social media platforms to be better, and do better by the people who use them.”
Many of the working group are choosing to pause or limit their paid Facebook advertising throughout July. As a small charity we spend very little on Facebook advertising, so pausing this activity would have little effect and would go unnoticed by our supporters. Therefore to stand in solidarity with those affected, we will be pausing all use of Facebook and Instagram altogether from the 10th - 17th July.
“Hate, whether it’s based on race, gender, sexuality, disability, religious beliefs or any other characteristic, is not acceptable in society. And we all have a part to play in stopping its spread”.