Recently, numerous major brands and CPGs decided to take their convictions to social media … by boycotting. Coca-Cola, Levis, Unilever, Pepsi, Best Buy, Hershey, Diageo, Verizon and many others have halted advertising on Facebook — with some going even further by nixing ads on Instagram and Twitter as well.

The reason, these companies state, is that social media platforms aren’t doing enough policing of posts on their sites. Hate speech is rampant lately and posts are vicious and very personal.

It’s interesting, knowing that in a one-on-one encounter this wouldn’t likely happen. It’s the keyboard curse; it makes people feel powerful.

In January, New York Senator David Carlucci introduced a Social Media Hate Speech Accountability Act bill, after a number of hate crimes around the country. It states:

The Social Media Hate Speech Accountability Act will put in place best practices that social media companies and other online platforms must follow when taking complaints about hate speech. Hate speech is defined as speech or imagery, targeting a protected class, such as race, ethnicity, nationality, religion or beliefs, sexual orientation, gender identity or physical, mental or intellectual disability. Under the bill, it is required that the platform remove hate speech within 24 hours after a complaint has been reported.

And, if a social media platform doesn’t remove reported hate speech either intentionally or negligently, the State’s Attorney General can take action against the provider. The Attorney General can seek up to $1 million for a violation and can increase damages up to three times that, if the company has engaged in a pattern or practice of not removing such hate speech.

Unfortunately, seven months later, it is still in committee.

Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, who to date, has lost $7.2 billion over the ad boycott, has said again and again that his platform allows free speech. He doesn’t think that the company should be the “arbiter of truth.” After brands got involved, he announced to CNN that he would take steps to protect data and fix what he called a “breach of trust.”

Will it take losing billions to realize that free speech should not include hate speech against any one religion, skin color, gender preference and so forth? I believe it will take social media influencers and users to take a stand as well — to let the Big 3 of social media know that it isn’t just. Social media was born to bring people together … the Book of Faces, aka, Facebook. Not to further tear us apart.

Enjoy our annual Top 100 Food & Beverage Packaging Companies spotlight, as well as features on toy packaging, p. 14, produce trends, p. 47 and more.