Starbucks seeks to stop 'hate speech'

World | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 30 Jun 2020

Starbucks will pause its advertising on social media while it studies ways to "stop the spread of hate speech" as part of a growing corporate movement.

"We believe in bringing communities together, both in-person and online, and we stand against hate speech," the Seattle-based corporation, which operates thousands of coffee shops around the world, announced.

"We will pause advertising on all social media platforms while we continue discussions internally, with our media partners and with civil rights organizations in the effort to stop the spread of hate speech."

Amid intense debate over racism in the United States and frequent eruptions of ugly, hate-filled speech on social media, Starbucks thus followed the lead of other big corporations like Unilever and Coca-Cola, which announced similar pauses on Friday.

Major social media platforms, such as Facebook, have faced sharp criticism for failing to eliminate racist or hate-filled posts.

Calls for an advertising boycott of Facebook have come from the NAACP - the big civil rights group that defends African Americans' interests - and the Anti-Defamation League, which fights anti-Semitism.

But Starbucks said it was not joining that boycott. The company said it would continue using social media to communicate with its clients and employees.

Starbucks itself has faced criticism over its handling of racial issues.

In April 2018, the arrest of two black men in a Starbucks restaurant in Philadelphia, who had made no purchases but refused to leave when asked, caused a n uproar. The men, who were marched out of the restaurant in handcuffs, were later released without charge.

The chain issued an apology and closed its more than 8,000 company-operated US stores to allow employees to receive racial-diversity training.

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