Celebrities to boycott Facebook and Instagram over failure to address hate speech

Celebrities, that include Kim Kardashian West, Leonardo DiCaprio and Katy Perry, will boycott Facebook’s two social media sites for one day, to draw attention to what they say is a failure on the companies part to address hate speech posted on their platforms.

The move is part of the #StopHateforProfit campaign which was organised by civil rights activists.

In a recent incident, Facebook reportedly declined to take down a page for a militia organisation based in Kenosha, Wisconsin, despite hundreds of notifications from users that the page included a call to arms and comments advocating violence against protesters, who were demonstrating over the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg later called this an “operational mistake” and Facebook only removed the page after a gunman at the protest killed two people.

Kardashian West wrote in a statement on Tuesday saying: "Misinformation shared on social media has a serious impact."

“I love that I can connect directly with you through Instagram and Facebook, but I can’t sit by and stay silent while these platforms continue to allow the spreading of hate, propaganda and misinformation,” Kardashian West tweeted.

The celebrities will freeze their accounts for 24 hours on Wednesday.

"I can't sit idly by while these platforms turn a blind eye to groups and posts spreading hateful disinformation," Perry wrote on Instagram.

Actor Ashton Kutcher, who has millions of followers and is also joining the boycott, said "these tools were not built to spread hate [and] violence".

#StopHateForProfit earlier this summer launched a boycott of Facebook advertising—though more than 500 advertisers signed on, Facebook’s financial bottom line only saw a minimal impact.

Thousands of businesses and major civil rights groups - including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Anti-Defamation League (AD) - have signed up to the campaign.

In June, Facebook said it would label potentially harmful or misleading posts left up for their news value.

Zuckerberg also said the social media firm would ban advertising containing claims "that people of a specific race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, caste, sexual orientation, gender identity or immigration status" are a threat to others.

Meanwhile the EU has said that it plans to focus its upcoming regulations on tech firms, even as Silicon Valley’s largest companies argue they should not be singled out for stricter guidelines.

Vera Jourova, a European Commission vice-president said that a wide-range of platforms need to be held accountable and take more responsibility. The impending European Democracy Action Plan will tackle online disinformation among other issues.