Sir Nick Clegg has defended Facebook as hundreds of advertisers boycott the social network.

Sir Nick Clegg

Sir Nick Clegg

The vice president of global affairs and communications at Facebook has penned an open letter after more than 150 companies - including the likes of Starbucks and Coca-Cola - refused to advertise with them throughout the month of July in a bid to put pressure on Facebook to tackle hate speech and misinformation.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg sparked controversy when he refused to take down a post by US President Donald Trump.

Amid the Black Lives Matter protests following the death of unarmed African American George Floyd, Trump had written: "When the looting starts, the shooting starts."

Clegg has insisted that Facebook always "err on the side of freedom of expression" because they believe it's better to fight hurtful and offensive content with "more speech".

Britain's former Liberal Democrat leader wrote: "When content falls short of being classified as hate speech - or of our other policies aimed at preventing harm or voter suppression - we err on the side of free expression because, ultimately, the best way to counter hurtful, divisive, offensive speech, is more speech.

"With so much content posted every day, rooting out the hate is like looking for a needle in a haystack."

He insisted: "I want to be unambiguous: Facebook does not profit from hate.

"We may never be able to prevent hate from appearing on Facebook entirely, but we are getting better at stopping it all the time."

Clegg's comments come as it was revealed that Zuckerberg, Apple's Tim Cook, Amazon's Jeff Bezos and Google's Sundar Pichai will testify before Congress at an antitrust hearing later this month.

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