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Jul 6, 2020

Why Houdini joined the Stop Hate For Profit campaign

On June 17th, the Stop Hate For Profit Campaign was launched by six civil rights groups in the USA, encouraging businesses to stand in solidarity with freedom, justice and equality by pausing their advertising on Facebook’s platforms for the month of July. We joined the campaign on June 22nd deciding to suspend all paid activity on Facebook and Instagram effective immediately and for the month of July at the very least. In this article, we hope to shed some light on why we decided to join the campaign, what we’re hoping to achieve together with our industry peers and why it is most definitely not a marketing move.

So what’s the problem?

First off, our aim is never to support antidemocratic activism. We fully support free speech. It should also be mentioned that the actions we’re taking only affect the paid services of Facebook’s platform: How Facebook protects the right of free speech through its organic platform is not relevant to the reason why we decided to join the Stop Hate For Profit Campaign.

Facebook’s paid services (advertising) operate on a system that decides what content that is allowed to be advertised and by whom. Basically, whose opinions and messages that can be spread or not – and this system is flawed. There are plenty of examples where Facebook has left hateful (racist, anti-Semite and more) content unchecked and thereby profits from it, directly or indirectly. This is the essential problem that we are protesting against. By stopping our advertising spend on Facebook’s platform, we hope to put pressure on them to change a paid content policy that we believe is flawed.

How Facebook’s policy effect Houdini

Adding to this problem comes our own experience with this same system: As a brand with sustainability at our core, we have run into problems with the policy of Facebook’s paid services. Various ads that we’ve tried to run have been stopped. Examples of this are two posts about product innovations that combat microplastics and one about a collaboration with Save the Children to support girls on the move. According to Facebook, the reason was that the content was not in line with their policy on Social and Political Issues. See the posts here, here and here.

We believe spreading hateful content is wrong, period. You can agree with that or not. But when hateful content is placed over content about sustainable innovation, social justice and charity, that’s where we see a bias that we feel needs to be addressed. 

These cases show us that the system deciding what content deserves to be seen and can be capitalized on is flawed. It’s not about having a monitoring system or not. Nor is it about having free speech or not. It’s about fixing the existing system to safeguard justice and equality instead of profiting from hateful content.

We understand and respect the complexity of the issue at hand at we recognize that the work of protecting free speech on social media is multifaceted. But free speech is not a green card for hate speech. In our 27 years of business, complexity has never shied us away from taking action. Nor should it now. 

What are we looking to achieve by joining the campaign?

1.    Raise awareness for the unjust practices that Facebook uses to monitor content on their platforms.
2.    Encourage them to refine their monitoring practices to promote a truly diverse and democratic space. Not a system that monetizes on spreading hateful content.

The Stop Hate For Profit campaign is more than just a boycott: It proposes detailed steps that Facebook can take in order establish a better, more sophisticated system and monitoring process. One that recognizes the complexity of a global dialogue between hugely different people and allows that dialogue to occur peacefully and fairly. 

We are hopeful that Facebook and other social platforms can become a space where all people can collaborate through dialogue, sharing knowledge, ideas and experiences and learn from each other’s perspectives on equal grounds.

You can read the recommendations to Facebook here. Thanks for reading and don’t hesitate to contact us on info@houdinisportswear.com with your comments.

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"Do good, play hard, push boundaries and have fun." These are our core values and the guiding principle in how we act. In this campaign and at all times.

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