What the #StopHateForProfit campaign tells us about digital transformation

What the #StopHateForProfit campaign tells us about digital transformation

Several large corporations are suspending ad placements with major social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and to a lesser extend Twitter. These include brands such as Unilever, Coca Cola, Ben & Jerry’s, Patagonia and the North Face (https://nyti.ms/38hjDMN). I am glad so see my company Siemens also supporting the campaign (https://bit.ly/2YN890k).

These actions were taken over dispute regarding facebook´s handling of misinformation and lack of enforcement of content rules - amid worldwide protests against racism and police brutality.

Now boycotts of facebook are nothing new, with Tesla, Sonos and Mozilla, among others, briefly stopping advertisement on facebook after the Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018. Irrespective of it having any kind of impact, from my point of view there is something to learn here on the case of digital transformation overall:

  1. The physical and virtual world are deeply interrelated and influence each other. This should not be a surprise anymore to anyone, but it is a good reminder.
  2. Digital is not per es good. It is dual use and can multiply flaws/biases in physical world (see my previous post post on biases in machine learning - https://bit.ly/2NKcBGV). This holds for social media as much as for artificial intelligence and all other digital technologies.
  3. What is really new: There seems to be a new level of public attention demanding responsible approaches to digital tech. This tendency was already visible in the covid_19 crisis, e.g., when discussing contact tracing apps. (see also my article https://bit.ly/2BuW7Ql). For companies this means: they need to take a clear stand as to their digital practices. What values do they stand for? Which policies did they implement to make these values a reality?

All of the above is something we need to be aware of when thinking about ‚digital‘. We need to be mindful that digital transformation does not only bring large opportunities, but all the like large responsibility.