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Charities unite against social media hate speech

A coalition of 37 UK-based charities have joined forces to tackle hate speech on social media.

As a joint statement explains:

Facebook’s policies for addressing hate speech are under increasing global scrutiny as big businesses boycott advertising on the platform. But the reality is that this is a problem for any organisation which uses their platforms. 

In response to this moment, 37 UK charities are joining forces to form a working group which will review what’s happening, how it impacts our ability to support beneficiaries and bring recommendations of change to the social media owners. 

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. No one should have to see these messages in their day to day lives, and especially not when trying to access ongoing information and support. 

We believe that it’s time for social media platforms to be better, and do better by the people who use them. It’s time for them to take action to make their platforms more inclusive, a place for connecting and debate, not hate. 

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. We believe it’s important that Facebook and other social media owners hear this message loud and clear from as many people, and sectors, as possible. 

Together, we will take stock of what’s happening, scaling back our social media spend where we can, without it impacting our ability to deliver vital services.We’ll review ethical marketing policies, and see how these align with those of our partners. And where there is difference, we’ll be taking combined recommendations to the social media platforms to show them how they can do better for those we support.

Among the signatories is social enterprise PR & communications agency Campaign Collective, which funds The Rooftop.

This means that for the month of July we will not be paying to promote any activity of the Rooftop though Facebook.

Simon Francis, Founder Member of Campaign Collective and editor of The Rooftop, commented:

We have seen a recent rise in the amount of racist comments on The Rooftop’s Facebook page. Many of these posts display signals of being “bots” – i.e. fake online accounts designed to sow hatred.

Despite flagging this with Facebook, we have not seen any where near the level of action from them that we would expect. This hampers our ability to run a community full of positive news without hate speech.

We welcome this joint effort by charities to look at how the ethics of social media advertising can be improved. While we will continue to use Facebook to ensure we continue to share good news worth shouting about, we will not spend any money promoting our posts.

Charities signing up to the initiative include Mind, The Children’s Society, Blue Cross, Parkinson’s UK, Versus Arthritis, Pancreatic Cancer UK, Good Things Foundation, Health in Mind, Changing Faces, Freedom From Torture. Youth Music, KeyRing, Teach First, The Humane League UK, Change Grow Live, Become, Dogstar Foundation, Place2Be, ShelterBox, Young Women’s Trust, Charity Digital, Womankind Worldwide , Prostate Cancer UK, MND Association, Mayhew, U3A, RNIB, Women’s Aid, Children on the Edge, Help for Heroes, Epilepsy Action, Young Minds, JDRF, Friends of the Earth, The Vegan Society and Barnardo’s.