The social media giant has faced backlash and losses in partnerships from companies like Unilever, Verizon and Hershey, which have decided to sever ties due to what they say is a failure on Facebook’s part to sufficiently police hate speech and inaccurate news on its platform. Coca Cola has also said it will be pausing all social media advertising for at least 30 days.
Zuckerberg has tried to alleviate the concerns over misinformation in the news, saying it would be flagging political news links with encouragements for users to look at its new voter information hubs. Facebook has also stepped up its work to fight hate speech, now not allowing ads if they label another group as dangerous.
And Zuckerberg has said that there will be “no exceptions for politicians in any of the policies I’m announcing here today,” Bloomberg reported.
Shares in Facebook fell 8.3 percent on Friday, the highest amount in months, and the company’s market value fell $56 billion. Zuckerberg’s worth is now sitting at $82.3 billion, and he has been moved off the list of the world’s three richest people, now displaced by Louis Vuitton boss Bernard Arnault.
The concerns are not new, and Facebook has been dogged by critiques of its policy on political ads for years. In 2018, as the midterm elections were approaching, Senators Mark Warner of Virginia and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota sent an open letter to Zuckerberg critiquing his then-new ad policy of requiring those buying ads to note who paid for them.
However, the feature backfired due to multiple documented instances of buyers posing falsely as others to prove the point that the feature could sway opinions — for instance, Vice news was able to impersonate 100 senators buying ads, the news outlet reported.
Klobuchar and Warner said it was “unacceptable” that ads were able to be intentionally misidentified that way.
In another case, from 2019, Facebook was sued for running real estate ads that were found to be severely biased against users based on race, gender and ethnicity.