Jul 1, 2020

KIND’s Decision to #StopHateforProfit

Below is the note that I shared with the KIND Snacks team today.

KIND Team,

As we’ve sadly discussed on several occasions, the rise in polarization, tribal division, mistrust, prejudice and hatred is alarming and threatens to tear apart the social fabric that binds society together. Our mission to foster kindness and build bridges across lines of difference has never since our founding (or since I remember) been more urgent.

And yet, social media platforms – and particularly Facebook – have been exacerbating divisions and fueling hatred by knowingly allowing false and hateful information to permeate across their platforms.

We used to love that Facebook was a platform where you could know who users were and you felt connected to the community. But it has since been overtaken by fake accounts and trolls and tools of disinformation, bigotry and hatred. Its algorithms exacerbate division, as it has been documented that negative hateful stories get shared more; yet Facebook shut down efforts to address this problem. On top of this, Facebook does not take meaningful efforts to take down content that is demonstrably false, defamatory or hateful.

This must change, for the sake of Facebook regaining its role as a trusted platform, and, far more important, for the sake of society.

We’ve decided today that KIND – in the United States and across the 32 countries where we now operate – will vote with our advertising dollars in favor of truth, fairness, civility, and kindness. Most immediately, KIND is joining the Stop Hate for Profit initiative started by Color of Change, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Anti-Defamation League (ADL, whose Board I serve on), and others. We will pause our Facebook and Instagram advertising across all product lines starting July 1st through the close of the month.

While we set ambitious business objectives for July, which originally included a major new product campaign on Facebook, our team consulted with all our international and category partners and we all concluded that this was the right thing to do. We need to communicate to our counterparts at Facebook that, as much as we all care about financial objectives, protecting our society and stopping groups from undermining our democracy, our rule of law, and our social fabric matters far more.

Suspending our ad spend in July across all Facebook-owned properties is a meaningful message. But we also want to share that if these practices do not change – if Facebook doesn’t take visible, measurable and assertive efforts to effectively prevent the promotion of hate, division, defamation and misinformation by this year’s end – we will feel compelled to evaluate indefinitely suspending our investments in Facebook until they do so.

Sincerely,

Daniel Lubetzky

Democracy          Empathy          Leadership

More from Daniel

The Media Is Over-Covering Divisiveness. It’s Going to Destroy Us

In 2000, President Clinton hosted a peace conference at Camp David that gave many hope for peace in Gaza; but a few months later, the Second Intifada, a major Palestinian uprising against Israel, began. Having been working in the region for decades to found and build PeaceWorks, a company that used market forces to foster peace between neighbors in the Middle East, I was confused and depressed by the news. On Western television, I saw pictures of ruthless violence and terrorism from Palestinians, giving me the impression, at least initially, that the moderates I knew had succumbed to extreme ways. But when I went to talk to my Palestinian friends, and they showed me what they were seeing on the television, I was shocked:. Their news programs depicted all Israelis as merciless killers.

On both sides of the conflict, the news media seemed like it exclusively published stories portraying the worst of the other side, characterizing all Palestinians or Israelis as hateful enemies. It turned out that my friends hadn’t changed at all; they just weren’t the ones the media were showing. And in portraying things falsely in such a negative light, the media fed the conflict rather than helping resolve it.

We Americans are now facing this same problem, with potentially devastating repercussions for our democracy and our ability to lead the free world.

read more