Stop Funding Hate is working – what next?

“It is deeply disturbing to learn that this campaign is beginning to have an effect”
– Sun columnist, November 2017

Over the past year we’ve started to see some big changes. While there is still a way to go, there has been a noticeable drop in the number of anti-migrant and anti-Muslim front pages in some newspapers, and a striking shift in tone in particular from the Daily Express. Both the Express and the Daily Mail now have new editors, and the Mail has been briefing other media about a plan to “detoxify” the newspaper.

Internationally, there is now a growing recognition within the advertising industry that brands must do more to ensure that their money does not fuel hatred and division.

Feedback from industry insiders suggests that Stop Funding Hate supporters have played a significant role in helping to bring about these changes. Precisely how much is impossible to measure: A lot of the decision-making – both from advertisers and newspapers – has gone on behind closed doors. And as with any campaign, there will have been a range of factors in play.

But one thing that is clear: The only reason that Stop Funding Hate has had any impact at all is because hundreds of thousands of people across the UK (and around the world) are deeply concerned about the rise in racism and other forms of hatred, and want to use their power as consumers to do something about it.

Together we’ve shown that this model of campaigning can work: If enough of us us challenge hateful media coverage by engaging with advertisers, the companies we shop with will respond.

A new Facebook group for a new phase of the Stop Funding Hate campaign

Stop Funding Hate has always been a collective effort, driven by a diverse community of people from a wide range of backgrounds, pooling knowledge, ideas and skills towards a common goal.

Together we’ve built this campaign from a small online chat into a movement which has reached millions of people, made national and international headlines, and had a global impact.

Maintaining an open discussion has sometimes been a challenge, especially at times of heightened attention from hostile trolls, and when capacity has been stretched. But we know that a collective, collaborative approach has always been Stop Funding Hate’s greatest strength – and that it’s vital to build on this as we develop the next phase.

So we’ve set up a new Facebook discussion group, to create a space in which Stop Funding Hate supporters can participate more directly in co-creating the campaign.

There are some big questions about where we should go next, and input from a wide range of supporters will be vital if we are to figure out effective, workable answers. Here are just a few:

1. Stop Funding Hate aims to make hate unprofitable by engaging with advertisers. Our initial focus was on the UK print media – specifically the three UK newspapers whose coverage has been so extreme that they have been called out by the United Nations. But amid a global upsurge in online hatred, and with more and more advertising going online, it is increasingly the big tech companies who are profiting from hate. Do Stop Funding Hate supporters think the campaign is well placed to challenge social media hate – and if so how can we do so effectively?

2. Stop Funding Hate currently has a UK focus, but many of the problems we are challenging are global in nature – and there are groups doing similar work in dozens of countries around the world. The new UN Global Compact for Migration is a major step forward in the international effort to establish advertising as a mainstream business ethics issue. Is there more we could do to support other campaigns and build an effective worldwide movement to make hate unprofitable?

3. At the same time as we’re finding fewer examples of extreme hate within the UK press, Stop Funding Hate’s allies and supporters continue to highlight cases of “dog whistle” racism, transphobia, misogyny, Islamophobia and anti-Roma discrimination. And while there has been noticeable change in the three UK newspapers who originally featured in the campaign – serious concerns have now been raised about divisive and inflammatory coverage within other UK publications. Stop Funding Hate does not have the capacity to become a media watchdog or a media standards organisation. But can we develop practical, effective ways of challenging clear examples of media discrimination in cases where calling for a full advertising boycott may not be appropriate?

4. Recent years have seen sustained attempts by far-right extremists to normalise racist and discriminatory ideas within the media (and on social media). Stop Funding Hate is an ethical campaign, not a political one – yet political extremists are clearly fuelling hate within our public discourse – and in some cases profiting from hate. There is also concern that the global resurgence of fascism poses a serious threat to human rights and democracy in the UK, US and many other countries across the world. Could the campaign do more to address this – and if so, how can we most effectively approach it?

5. Are there other things that Stop Funding Hate could do to effectively promote a more civil and less hateful public discourse?

6. Conversely – are we trying to do too much? Are there things we should do less of – and issues we should steer clear of – in order to stay focussed and maintain our effectiveness?

This new Facebook group is intended to be an open channel, with clear, practical guidelines to keep the discussion on track, and maintain the space as one in which everyone who supports the goals and principles of Stop Funding Hate can participate.

These guidelines will be published as a “pinned post” within the group and are likely to evolve over time, but we thought it would also be helpful to share them here.

We know that the overwhelming majority of people who have joined the discussion on the main Stop Funding Hate Facebook page have already applied these rules through common sense and do not need them spelled out. Nonetheless there have been times when the page has been targeted by trolls – or when the discussion has gone off-track in ways that run against the principles and goals of the campaign.

So to reduce the risk of that happening within this new Facebook discussion group – and to ensure it can remain open over the long-term – it seemed useful to be absolutely clear from the start – even if these rules should be common sense to almost everyone.

Please join the discussion here and let’s build the next phase of the campaign!


Stop Funding Hate supporters Facebook group – discussion guidelines

*Please don’t direct abuse at the media – or against individual journalists.

*Please don’t post political content.

*Please do ensure that posts are on-topic and related to the Stop Funding Hate campaign.

In more detail:

We’re keen to keep building a positive, upbeat tone for the campaign, focussing on the things that bring people together rather than dividing them.

So we’re asking everyone who joins this group to keep the discussion here civil, constructive, and non-partisan.

Please remember that anything you post may be read by others outside of Stop Funding Hate.

Please avoid using negative, derogatory or personalised language about the media outlets we are challenging, about newspaper readers, or about individual journalists.

Please be respectful of the fact that Stop Funding Hate is not a political campaign, and that our supporters include people from a wide range of backgrounds and points of view.

To be effective, we have to remain politically neutral, and stay focussed on the apolitical aims and principles that supporters have signed up to. Stop Funding Hate is not a vehicle for any other agenda.

Stop Funding Hate is not seeking to get any newspaper closed down or taken off sale. We are committed to bringing about a fairer media while also fully respecting the right to freedom of expression and freedom of choice.

Please do not leave posts or comments which:

  • Direct hatred or abuse at any journalist, public figure or other individual
  • Promote any political organisation or campaign
  • Are racist, sexist, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, transphobic, homophobic, disablist, or direct hatred or prejudice at any other group
  • Are hateful or derogatory towards the readers of any newspaper – or of any other publication featured in the campaign
  • Call for any publication to be shut down – or in any other ways attack freedom of the press or freedom of choice
  • Direct hatred or derogatory comments towards members of any political party
  • Call for any individual to be fired from their job
  • Are personally abusive towards any other member of this Facebook group
  • Seek to defend or justify any type of hatred or discrimination
  • Advocate, justify, or imply the use of violence
  • Advocate illegal or borderline-illegal activity
  • Encourage people to hide or destroy copies of any newspaper
  • Disclose personal or private information about any individual
  • Make derogatory comments about an individual’s mental health
  • Link to external websites which host racism, conspiracy theories, or other hateful, extremist content
  • Advocate against freedom of expression or any other fundamental human right
  • Use inflammatory or abusive language
  • Spam the group with promotional or irrelevant links and information
  • Run directly counter to the core principles and purpose of Stop Funding Hate
  • Promote conspiracy theories
  • Are emotionally manipulative, traumatic or upsetting
  • Promote fundraising appeals which have no connection to Stop Funding Hate

We are keen to encourage an open discussion, but we will have to delete any posts that do not meet these guidelines.

In order to protect this space as a channel through which Stop Funding Hate supporters can shape the campaign, we may remove any member who violates the group’s ground rules.