United Kingdom

Starbucks 'is considering quitting Facebook because moderators are overwhelmed by hate speech' 

An internal memo, obtained by Buzzfeed, showed concern within Starbucks at the rhetoric on the site.

Starbucks mainly posts information about their beverages on the page, which is followed by 35 million people - but they also respond to social issues, such as the conviction of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd, and the wave of anti-Asian attacks. 

Starbucks' Facebook page mainly promotes drinks, but also includes social commentary

Starbucks is considering removing its Facebook page after being deluged by hate speech

'Starbucks is in the process of evaluating their organic presence on FB, and whether they should continue to have a presence on the platform at all,' a Facebook employee wrote to their colleagues earlier this week. 

'Anytime they post (organically) in regards to social issues or their mission & values work (e.g. BLM, LGBTQ, sustainability/climate change, etc.) they are overwhelmed by negative/insensitive, hate speech related comments on their posts.' 

Much of the offensive commentary is swiftly removed.

However, the site is filled with people expressing disappointment at Starbucks for weighing in on issues such as Chauvin's conviction.

'Just stop it and stick to coffee,' said one woman.

Another accused the company of 'dancing over graves for political points.' 

Starbucks' deliberations come as Facebook is facing a reckoning over the content allowed on its pages.

The social media giant last week ruled that Donald Trump's page could not be restored, amid continuing fears about his power to spread unrest and incite violence.

Last week in the United Kingdom, the Premier League and its 20 associated soccer teams boycotted Facebook and Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, for four days in an attempt to bring awareness to the constant racist abuse that players face on those platforms. 

In 2020 Starbucks was one of hundreds of companies to stop advertising on Facebook as part of the 'Stop Hate for Profit' campaign, which sought to pressure the world's largest social network into taking a harder stance on racist and hateful content.

On its Facebook page, Starbucks says it hopes the site can be an extension of their cafes, where conversations can be held over coffee.

'Come on in. This space is not so different from your neighborhood Starbucks,' they write. 

'It's a place where people from all over come together for conversation and great coffee.

'We welcome your ideas, feedback, and constructive criticism.'

A giant pride flag flies over the Starbucks headquarters in Seattle in June 2014

Sanja Gould, a Starbucks spokesperson, would not confirm if the coffee company was considering removing its Facebook page.

She told Buzzfeed that that Seattle-based company stands 'against hate speech.'

'While some changes have been implemented, we believe more can be done to create welcoming and inclusive online communities,' she said. 

'We work collaboratively with all companies we do business with to ensure any advertising done on our behalf is in alignment with our brand standards.'

In a statement, Facebook spokesperson Dani Lever said that Facebook offers 'tools to limit this content from appearing on partners' pages including ways for brands to control those who can comment on their posts.'

'Our teams work with our clients around the world on various issues and as this post shows we are working with them to keep hate off of their pages,' she said.

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