Facebook exec admits there is a 'trust deficit' as advertiser boycott accelerates

A Facebook executive acknowledged Tuesday that the social media giant faces a "trust deficit" amid a widening advertiser revolt over misinformation and hate speech on the platform.

A Facebook executive acknowledged Tuesday that the social media giant faces a "trust deficit" amid a widening advertiser revolt over misinformation and hate speech on the platform.

On a call with about 200 advertisers Tuesday, Facebook's head of trust and safety, Neil Potts, made the comment after being asked why companies should risk "our brands' reputation by staying on your platform," according to a person familiar with the matter.

"There is a trust deficit," Potts conceded on the call, which was convened by the Interactive Advertising Bureau of Canada. "You try to make a decision and people disagree and maybe that builds that deficit even deeper."

Asked for comment about the call, Facebook spokesman Andy Stone told CNN Business: "It's normal for us to have conversations with advertisers and discuss issues, including policy matters. This is something we do routinely and will keep doing."

Potts' remarks were first reported by the Financial Times.

The conference call, and Potts' remarks on it, are perhaps the clearest signal yet that Facebook's leadership is now grappling with a mounting pressure campaign from advertisers.

The boycott, which was organized by civil rights groups, began earlier this month in the wake of Facebook's inaction on incendiary posts by President Donald Trump, including one comment during an earlier protest that "looting" would lead to "shooting." In recent days, major brands including Ben & Jerry's, Patagonia and Magnolia Pictures have announced plans to pull ads from Facebook and Instagram.

In recent weeks, Facebook has confronted pushback from employees and politicians over its inaction on Trump's posts, but the growing advertiser boycott could pose a unique threat to its core business. The vast majority of Facebook's roughly $70 billion in annual revenue comes from advertising.

Still, Potts told the group on the call that Facebook is working to close the trust gap. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has vowed to review the company's policies on content relating to the state use of force as well as voter suppression.

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