The companies boycotting Facebook in an effort to fight hate speech have been advertising for years on VK.com, “a Russian social media platform that bans gay-rights groups and is known as a haven for white supremacists,” the Washington Free Beacon said in a report this week.
VK (short for VKontakte), based in Saint Petersburg, describes itself as the largest social network in Russia.
In the past few weeks, advertisements for hundreds of brands — including Adidas, Starbucks, Patagonia, and Pepsi – have been disappearing from Facebook as the Stop Hate for Profit boycott campaign gears up.
The campaign is an effort to pressure the social network led by CEO Mark Zuckerberg into cracking down on hate speech.
But advertising has continued on VK.com, according to the Washington Free Beacon — though it’s not clear if these companies are, as of Wednesday, actively running ads on VK.
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The Free Beacon report cites, from July of last year, the Anti-Defamation League when it said that the Russian social media service has become “‘an international hub for white supremacists’ who have been kicked off mainstream U.S. social media websites such as Facebook” but continue to be active on VK.
Back in 2016, The Atlantic cited VK in a report, “American Neo-Nazis Are on Russia\’s Facebook.”
That report said “white supremacists” had been migrating to VK for several years after Facebook took measures at that time to crack down on hate speech.
The Free Beacon added that though VK has taken steps to cull hate groups from its site, “organizations like the National Socialist Movement and the Ku Klux Klan still maintain an active presence on the website.”
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“We completely disagree with the statement claiming that we are ‘an international hub for white supremacists.’ VK has never tolerated calls to violence, nor nationalist or extremist propaganda, regardless of their place of origin. If such content is found, the VK Team reacts quickly to remove it and block offenders,” VK told Fox News in a statement.
“Thanks to user reports and proactive monitoring, we delete hundreds of thousands of pieces of content and block thousands of profiles every month for promoting violence and cruelty or distributing shocking content on our platform, regardless of where the offender is from,” VK said.
“There is more information about what we do to fight against calls to violence in our ‘Safety Guidelines’ section,” according to VK.
Fox News sought comments from companies cited in this story; only a few responded.
Starbucks told Fox News it is not doing any paid advertising on VK.com.
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Adidas told Fox News in a statement: “The swift and resolute action taken with Facebook and Instagram was only a first step. We are already underway with developing criteria that we will hold every one of our partners accountable to. We all have a responsibility for creating and maintaining safe environments, and we will soon address this across any company we may work with.\
Fox News’ Christopher Carbone contributed to this article.