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Fri, 4 December 2020

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Labour joins Facebook hate speech boycott as Dawn Butler says party must tackle anti-black racism

Labour joins Facebook hate speech boycott as Dawn Butler says party must tackle anti-black racism

Several major international companies have already cut ties with the platform (PA)

3 min read

Labour has joined a “complete boycott” of advertising on Facebook in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, as MP Dawn Butler urged Keir Starmer to prove his commitment to tackling racism.

Big names such as Adidas, Starbucks, Coca-Cola and Ford are among those who have announced support for the 'Stop Hate for Profit' campaign, which is calling on the social media giant to do more to tackle hate speech.

According to The Sunday Times, senior Labour staff were told of the decision to join the protest in an email last week, which stated: “This is a complete boycott, meaning we can’t use Facebook to advertise anything at all and can’t use it to boost posts.”

It added: “Social channels are a powerful place for us to get our message across. But they also have a duty in stopping the spread of hate.”

Labour has spent over £1.2 million on advertising on the platform alone since 2018, the majority of which going towards campaigns for the 2019 General Election.

Advertising records show that the party has no active ads running on either Facebook or Instagram, which is owned by the tech giant, with all current campaigns being taken offline on 30 June.

But the move came as former frontbencher Dawn Butler - who was this week forced to close her constituency office after receiving a string of racist threats - said Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer needed to do more to prove that the party was serious about tackling abuse.

In an interview with The Observer, she said she understood why the party was losing support among some black and minority ethnic voters.

The former shadow equalities minister said: “I don’t blame anyone for being unforgiving and uncompromising in this moment. 

“Young black people are seeking meaningful change and commitment and nothing less will do. I completely endorse that. 

“The Labour party is an anti-racist party but it has to prove that. It’s not something that is a given, it is something that has to be re-earned.”

Ms Butler was forced to shut her local office in Willesden, north London this week following increased threats of violence and racist abuse.

Sir Keir said the abuse she had suffered was "appalling", and added: "Dawn’s voice is vital. The racism that our Black MPs face has no place in society.”

But the Labour leader has faced criticism over a TV interview in which he referred to Black Lives Matter as a “moment” and dismissed calls to “defund the police” as “nonsense”.

He has since announced that he will commit to unconscious bias training and has launched a new racial equality strategy for Labour.

Ms Butler said of the leader: “Learning is always a good thing, so you should never dismiss anything that educates. Keir is going on a bit of journey at the moment with regards to Black Lives Matter.”

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