Adeela Warley: Is it ethical for charities to rely on social media giants?

Companies must move faster and go further to ensure their platforms are an inclusive place for connecting and debate, not hate

Can ethics and social media mix? Probably – although the ethics of social media giants are under intense scrutiny.

Debate about free speech and the dissemination of hate and misinformation has sparked boycotts of Facebook and Twitter. Celebrities, politicians, individuals and voluntary organisations have supported #StopHateForProfit, #NoSafeSpaceforHate and #48HoursSilence. Brands with an eye to their reputations withdrew advertising and social media echo chambers fell silent for a while.

The hiatus is a dilemma for all who use these platforms because, let’s face it, they are hard-wired into our engagement toolkits – helping us to extend our reach, fundraising and campaign aims. As the pandemic persists, charities need to engage current and new audiences as never before. Would stepping off platforms help influence the behaviour of these corporations?  

For some, the debate about the roles and standards of social media giants has prompted immediate action; for others it merited careful consideration and discussion. More than 37 UK charities came together in July to evaluate social media platforms and ethical marketing practices, and to start drawing up recommendations to show media owners how they can do better for the people we serve.

Not enough is being done to stop posts that incite hate and violence from being made visible. No one should have to see these messages in their daily lives, especially not when trying to access information and support, or when working on the social media front line to communicate your charity’s message and mission.

Companies must move faster and go further to ensure their platforms are an inclusive place for connecting and debate, not hate. Like social media, this campaign is not going away.

Adeela Warley is the chief executive of CharityComms

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