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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.

AMID FACEBOOK BOYCOTT OVER HATE SPEECH, ADS FOR 530 BRANDS SET TO DISAPPEAR FROM PLATFORM

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.

In this photo illustration the VKontakte (VK) logo is seen displayed on a smartphone.

In this photo illustration the VKontakte (VK) logo is seen displayed on a smartphone.
(Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

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.”

BLACK WORKERS HIT FACEBOOK WITH CLASS ACTION COMPLAINT ALLEGING DISCRIMINATION AND BIAS

“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.

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Jessica Abo talks with Comcast’s SVP of Community Impact about how leaders can effectively bring about change.

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Empowering underserved communities with corporate initiatives has long been a goal of Dalila Wilson-Scott, Comcast SVP of Community Impact and President of the Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation. At the 2019 Social Innovation Summit in Los Angeles, Jessica Abo spoke with Wilson-Scott about how business leaders can positively impact the lives of their customers and employees.

Wilson-Scott discusses accessibility programs Comcast has pursued with the help of partner organizations, allowing them to test features with the customers they’re intended to empower. 

Wilson-Scott suggests company leaders stay true to their business’ values by leveraging corporate culture to plan social impact work and to start by soliciting employee input — programs with employee buy-in are the most impactful. 

Starting small is another strategy Wilson-Scott suggests to avoid analysis paralysis and help companies understand their social mission. 

Wilson-Scott discusses the importance of diversity and inclusion at Comcast and how limited access to technology negatively impacts communities of color. One way Comcast addresses this, Wilson-Scott says, is with a representative staff. 

Wilson-Scott also advises leaders to aim for authenticity, consistency and being present.

Related: How WW International Is Trying to ‘Be Better and Do Better’ Right Now

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The chorus of voices in unison with #StopHateForProfit swells; Facebook does damage control amidst falling shares.

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It has not been a great week for Facebook, but it’s not the only target of the Anti-Defamation League’s insurgent #StopHateForProfit social media campaign. Twitter has likewise taken its lumps as corporations — either out of conscience or calculation — ranging from consumer-goods giant Unilever to workout-apparel manufacturers Lululemon and ice-cream iconoclasts Ben & Jerry’s (see “Related” link below) beg off placing ads on social media sites until they take a definitive zero-tolerance stand against entities and individuals who use the platforms as megaphones for hateful and often falsified rhetoric. 

But Facebook has been the primary target, perhaps because Twitter has been viewed as a bit more assertive in moderating its more provocative content and exiling abusers of late. Or, possibly, because Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg continues to function as an avatar for the tech world’s historically laissez-faire approach to policing open forums. 

This past weekend was a bit of a bloodbath for the social media giants, as the likes of Starbucks (which has had to do a bit of its own image repair after returning a massive government-stimulus loan), Coca-Cola and global spirits titan Diageo all announced pauses on their social media ad-spend. (Though, somewhat significantly, none of those three companies chose to align themselves explicitly with #StopHateForProfit.)

Related: Ben & Jerry’s Joins Facebook and Instagram Boycott, Pushes for Transgender Rights

On Saturday, Facebook took the rare and prompt action of rolling out new warning labels and guidelines concerning hate speech and misinformation, although — like Twitter — it maintains that even inflammatory posts from figures like President Trump are newsworthy. 

Alas, that hasn’t helped the company’s valuation from taking a hit. Per Marketwatch, Facebook shares fell 2 percent ahead of open trading this morning (Twitter’s were down nearly 2.5 percent). 

Here is a complete list of companies specifically participating in #StopHateForProfit.

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Some of my friends in law enforcement don’t want to use the word. But let’s call it what it is: Murder. That’s what Derek Chauvin did to Mr. Floyd, in my opinion.

“He had drugs in his system.”  “He was passing fake $20 bills.” “He had a criminal record.”

These have been some of the justifications repeated by a few of my law-enforcement friends and colleagues about former officer Chauvin’s heinous act, but there is no justification, so let’s acknowledge it for what it is. And once we acknowledge it, then it is our responsibility to take action. All of us must play a role in the solutions, including — or perhaps especially — our business community.

Approximately a dozen years ago, my former wife and I co-founded the nonprofit organization Dedication To Community, also known as D2C, to address some of today’s most pressing societal issues, including the tensions that exist between law enforcement and the communities served. Through education and guidance in the areas of policy reform and communications strategies, we are uniquely positioned to effect change, and this is a matter of life and death.

The D2C family trains law-enforcement officers to serve better, not to police better. I don’t use the word “police” as a verb. It’s not in my vocabulary. We concentrate our curricula on cultural awareness, implicit bias, de-escalation and wellness —vital information for those in authority. We also educate and engage with communities. Along with law enforcement, we work with members of society to position them for success; to educate them about how to interact with law enforcement in successful ways.

And that’s why so many people called me. Because I have committed my life to these issues; dedicated my existence to building relationships and facilitating solutions for individuals and organizations across this nation and beyond. I wrote a book about these issues and, after all, I am also an entrepreneur. Place a problem in front of me and, with all humility, I will find a way to solve it.

Related: It Doesn’t Take a Rocket Scientist to Solve the Racism Problem in Business

The avalanche of phone calls started seven days after Memorial Day on June 1, 2020. Seven days after the death of George Floyd. I received these calls non-stop from family members, friends, colleagues and associates who asked me two simple questions, all with the same focus: “What do I do?” and “what are the solutions?”

In my mind, the answer is very clear, and education is the key. That is, to start, lead us and no longer accept silence as a part of the equation. When you see injustice, call it out and make folks accountable. Refrain from complicitous behavior and, most of all, embrace the responsibility of being the one who heads up this movement.

Additionally, ensure that you are listening beautifully to those who are screaming for justice. Learn from them and understand the reason for their perspectives. They are in pain.

Lastly, acknowledge our history and why we are embroiled in these current circumstances, and take action with vulnerability and courage so that relationships can be built and restored — relationships that must be constructed with trust as a foundation.

This answer is not rocket science. As my former Boston College football teammate Blake Galvin often says, “It’s simple, but it ain’t easy.” The remedies for our societal ills are not going to work by just throwing money at the problem. Yes, money is needed by those who are doing the work, but money alone will not cure this disease of dysfunction. There must be sustainable long-term strategies in place that reveal the hearts of our society members. Sameness must be acknowledged while, at the same time, differences are embraced.

So here is my call to action for our business leaders: Educate yourselves and those whom you are leading. Step into your vulnerability with purpose and be deliberate about your selected course of action. Tell your stories of challenges and struggle. You will connect to those with whom you might not fully understand, those with whom you might see stark differences. These relationships will determine the destiny of our society.

This is a long-game approach, and band-aids are no longer acceptable, as they are certainly not effective solutions for our divisions. In order to live as one community, we must love as one, too.

M. Quentin Williams is an attorney, author and in-demand international speaker. His background as a former FBI agent and former federal prosecutor, as well as being a former sports executive, has been invaluable as he assists the business community to understand the societal landscape during these times of heightened unrest. Quentin’s book, A Survival Guide: How NOT To Get KILLED By The Police, has been critically acclaimed by law enforcement and communities alike, as a guide for all generations.

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There’s a new social media app trying to give Facebook and Twitter a run for their money — without the censorship.

Instead of using fact-checkers or a “third party editorial board,” Parler moderates posts based on FCC guidelines and Supreme Court rulings, Parler CEO John Matze told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto on Friday.

“It’ll feel very similar to Twitter, which I’m sure many people are accustomed to,” Matze said. “However … we take a really firm stance that we want to be unbiased.”

CONSERVATIVES USE TWITTER TO PUSH ALTERNATIVE PARLER APP AFTER TRUMP TWEET FLAGGED

If someone does post something inaccurate on Parler, Matze said the app would not fact-check it. Instead, other users would be able to comment.

“They can make any claim they’d like, but they’re going to be met with a lot of commenters, a lot of people who are going to disagree with them,” Matze said. “That’s how society works, right? If you make a claim, people are going to come and fact check you organically.”

“You don’t need an editorial board of experts to determine what’s true and what’s not,” he added. “The First Amendment was given to us so that we could all talk about issues, not have a single point of authority to determine what is correct and what’s not.”

WILL TRUMP SWITCH FROM TWITTER TO PARLER?

So far, Matze said Parler has gotten a lot of attention from conservatives — because “they seem to be the ones that are most affected by Twitter censorship or Facebook censorship” — but the website is for people from all places on the political spectrum.

“We’re a town square,” Matze said. “That’s how I view us. So everyone’s welcome, any kind of discussion.”

“We want people to actually have conversations again,” he added. “The country’s too partisan right now. And when you go on these sites, it feels like a battleground. And so the idea is that you’re going to get on Parler and have discussions with people.”

AG BARR ON TECH COMPANIES CENSORING VIEWPOINTS: ‘THERE’S SOMETHING VERY DISTURBING ABOUT WHAT’S GOING ON’

But it’s not just conservatives who are getting on Parler, Matze said.

“You’re going to see a lot of people on the other side of the aisle coming over very soon,” he said. “In fact, we’re seeing them in waves now. Not to the extent that they’re high-profile individuals, but you’re seeing a lot of people on the left who are actually curious.”

“They will come in bigger numbers and we’re going to see some bigger names come over, too, when they don’t want to miss out on the conversation,” he added. “They can’t resist.”

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However, the app is particularly important for conservatives to have a place where their voices can be heard, Matze said.

“Right now, conservatives need this kind of place, right?” he said. “This is something that they need in an election year, when they’re experiencing censorship or some kind of bias against them, whether it’s perceived or real … People want a place that they can feel like they’re appreciated and their voice matters and they can speak.”

Several Republican lawmakers have already joined the app including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan.

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American Airlines Group Inc.’s pilots called on the U.S. government to pay for enough jetliner seats to enable social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic, saying the move would help support carriers through the worst collapse in industry history.

The estimated cost of the proposal would be about $1.9 billion a month for the 10 largest U.S. carriers as they operate an average 40% of their normal flying capacity, the Allied Pilots Association said in a statement Wednesday. That would rise to $3.8 billion when the airlines reach 80% of normal schedules and decline as immunity to the virus rises, the union said, adding that actual costs of the program are likely to be lower.

The plan furthers calls to expand federal aid for devastated U.S. airlines, which already have received $25 billion for payroll costs and can borrow another $25 billion from the Treasury Department. As the pandemic gutted demand, carriers slashed flying, shrank fleets and encouraged workers to take leave or early retirement. Yet the risk of mass job losses looms when restrictions tied to the federal support expire after September.

“We’re still in an absolutely critical zone when traffic is just over 20% of what it was in 2019,” union President Eric Ferguson said in an interview. “It’s still quite dire.”

The largest U.S. airlines have limited the number of tickets they sell on each flight to allow middle seats to remain open, although some only do so when demand allows. The limits are designed to help prevent spread of the virus. But carriers have said that forgoing the sale of as much as 40% of seats per plane isn’t sustainable.

Under the APA proposal, “the government would purchase enough seats on each flight to eliminate the need for any passenger to sit next to a stranger,” Ferguson said in the statement. “Passengers would be encouraged to fly more, airlines would be encouraged to operate more flights, and the government would ensure the preservation of critical transportation infrastructure and associated jobs.”

Lawmaker Discussions

Payments would be based on the previous year’s cost to fly each seat a mile to ensure “a level playing field,” the APA said. The union said it has begun discussing the proposal with lawmakers.

“We can appreciate the APA’s resourcefulness in devising an idea designed to support the recovery of air travel,” said Matt Miller, an American Airlines spokesman, though the carrier doesn’t plan to lobby for additional support. The Treasury and Transportation departments didn’t respond to requests for comment.

The proposal follows a call Tuesday by the National Air Carrier Association for an extension of existing federal payroll support as airlines wait for more passengers to resume flying. The group represents discounters such as Spirit Airlines Inc. and Allegiant Travel Co., as well as smaller air cargo carriers and charter operators. Larger airlines haven’t sought additional federal assistance, according to their trade group, Airlines for America.

The Air Line Pilots Association, the largest labor group representing aviators, didn’t comment directly on the APA proposal. Such a plan isn’t among its current lobbying efforts, which include an extension of the federal payroll support program or similar efforts “to ensure the stability of the airline industry and a robust rebound,” ALPA said by email.

While domestic leisure travel has risen slightly, in some cases producing crowding on the smaller number of flights available, airlines have said that a full recovery could take as long as three years.

More coronavirus coverage from Fortune:

  • Why black-owned businesses were hit the hardest by the pandemic
  • This was the most out-of-stock product on websites in May
  • George Floyd protests, coronavirus face masks pose challenges for facial recognition
  • The enduring history of health care inequality for black Americans
  • E-book reading is booming during the coronavirus pandemic

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DMTV Milkshake’s first guest is Jennifer Rittner, design educator, writer, and founder of strategic communications agency Content Matters. Jennifer’s work centers mainly on the intersections between design and social justice, equity, and representation. During her DMTV Milkshake interview, Jennifer discusses the importance and meaning of design for social impact work and how designers and firms can effectively contribute their resources to support social justice movements like the fight against police brutality and the movement to abolish systemic racism.



Jennifer’s recent written work explores the need for design educators, organizations, and leaders to collectively, “build a coordinated curriculum that addresses American racism in all the ways it is designed,” and identifies essential steps the design industry needs to take in order to, “embed equity, inclusion and representation into our collective mission” rather than continuing to focus on diversity as a separate initiative. Similar topics, such as the common practice of “performance empathy” in design, are discussed in a virtual panel Jennifer moderated for NYCxDesign, which you can view here.

In addition to her work as a communications strategist and writer, Jennifer teaches Design and Social Justice in SVA’s Products of Design MFA program and wrote the integrated design curriculum for the Williamsburg High School of Architecture and Design’s AP Human Geography program, developed in conjunction with Sinclair Smith of the SVA Groundfloor Incubator and Noel Wiggins of Areaware. This summer, she is launching the Colloquium for International Graduate Students at SVA, which introduces incoming international students to life in NYC through a design lens.

View Jennifer’s DMTV Milkshake episode above, then check out the rest of the series here.

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Workers in Amazon’s warehouses get real-time visual feedback showing if they are keeping a safe distance from their colleagues.

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2 min read


This story originally appeared on PC Mag

It’s hard to know exactly how close you can get to someone without breaking the social distance rules, but Amazon has made it easy for warehouse workers by using red and green circles.

Posting on the Amazon Day One blog, Brad Porter, vice president and distinguished engineer in Amazon’s Robotics department, introduces a newly-developed system called “Distance Assistance.” It’s technology aimed at helping Amazon’s employees to remain socially distant from each other at all times, and it was made possible through a combination of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and augmented reality.

In practice, Distance Assistance consists of a 50-inch monitor, a camera, and a computer combined into a standalone unit which can be deployed anywhere within Amazon’s warehouses there’s a power outlet available. It creates a “magic-mirror-like tool that helps associates see their physical distancing from others” by painting a circle around their feet, as you can see in the video above. A green circle shows they are at a safe distance from others, where as a red circle signals they are too close and should take action to go green.

For now, Amazon has deployed the Distance Assistance units “at a handful of our buildings,” but positive feedback from employees means they are going to be deployed at hundreds of locations in the coming weeks. It’s also nice to hear that Amazon intends to open source the software and AI used to create the system so other companies can take advantage and keep their employees safe, too.

 

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Quotes delayed at least 15 minutes. Market data provided by Interactive Data. ETF and Mutual Fund data provided by Morningstar, Inc. Dow Jones Terms & Conditions: http://www.djindexes.com/mdsidx/html/tandc/indexestandcs.html.
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