News, Culture & Society

Boycott of advertising on Facebook to force platform to remove hate speech ‘will go global’

A boycott of advertising on Facebook designed to get the social media platform to remove hate speech will next go global, say its organizers. 

The ‘Stop Hate for Profit’ campaign will now work on getting European companies to join the boycott and urge regulators to take a hard stand on Facebook. More than 160 companies already have agreed to not buy ads on the world’s largest social media platform during the month of July, as called for by the campaign. 

Starbucks, while not officially participants in the boycott, say they will suspend advertising on all social media. Starbucks says it working with civil rights groups to ‘stop the spread of hate speech.’ 

Coca-cola and Unilever announced a similar pause on Friday, when Facebook saw its shares drop $56 billion in valuation in response to the negative publicity. 

A boycott of advertising on Facebook designed to get the social media platform to remove hate speech will next go global, say its organizers. Pictured is Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg, who saw his net worth impacted by bad publicity

Facebook saw its shares drop $56 billion in valuation Friday as companies joined a campaign  asking the social media giant to remove hate speech from its platform

Facebook saw its shares drop $56 billion in valuation Friday as companies joined a campaign  asking the social media giant to remove hate speech from its platform

Free Press and Common Sense Media, along with US civil rights groups Color of Change and the Anti-Defamation League, launched the campaign following the police-related slaying of George Floyd on Memorial Day in Minneapolis.

Floyd, a 46-year-old black father of five, died after former police officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee on the man’s neck for almost nine minutes during an arrest.

Video footage of the incident taken by a bystander shows the police-related slaying, which triggered Black Lives Matter protests that have followed calling for an end to police brutality and systematic racism.

The outrage in the US over Floyd’s passing led to an unprecedented reaction from corporations around the world as its impact has been felt beyond US borders. 

Unilever, for example, changed the name of a skin-lightening product popular in India called Fair and Lovely. The company also has agreed to an advertising pause as the Facebook ad-purchasing boycott has gained traction. 

Jim Steyer, chief executive of Common Sense Media, said the next step in getting Facebook to take action is by seeking global support.

‘The next frontier is global pressure,’ Steyer said.

The European Commission this month already announced new guidelines for tech companies including Facebook to submit monthly reports on how they are handling coronavirus misinformation.  

Jim Steyer, chief executive of Common Sense Media, said the next step in getting Facebook to take action is by seeking global support. 'The next frontier is global pressure,' Steyer said

Jim Steyer, chief executive of Common Sense Media, said the next step in getting Facebook to take action is by seeking global support. ‘The next frontier is global pressure,’ Steyer said

Unilever on Friday committed to pausing its US spending on Facebook for the rest of the year

Verizon also has agreed to temporarily stop buying ads on Facebook

The ‘Stop Hate for Profit’ campaign will now work on getting European companies to join the boycott and urge regulators to take a hard stand on Facebook. More than 160 companies, including Unilever (left) and Verizon (right), have said they will not by advertising

The global campaign will proceed as organizers continue to urge more US companies to participate. Jessica Gonzalez, co-chief executive of Free Press, said she has contacted major US telecommunications and media companies to ask them to join the campaign.

Responding to demands for more action, Facebook on Sunday acknowledged it has more work to do and is teaming up with civil rights groups and experts to develop more tools to fight hate speech. 

Facebook said its investments in artificial intelligence have allowed it to find 90 per cent of hate speech before users report it.

Starbucks, not officially a participant in the boycott, says it will still suspend advertising on all social media while working with civil rights groups to 'stop the spread of hate speech'

Starbucks, not officially a participant in the boycott, says it will still suspend advertising on all social media while working with civil rights groups to ‘stop the spread of hate speech’

Coca-cola and Unilever announced a similar pause on Friday, when Facebook saw its shares drop $56 billion in valuation in response to the negative publicity

Coca-cola and Unilever announced a similar pause on Friday, when Facebook saw its shares drop $56 billion in valuation in response to the negative publicity

Expanding the boycott campaign outside the US will take a bigger slice off of Facebook’s advertising revenue but is not likely to have a major financial impact on the company. 

Unilever, for instance, on Friday committed to pausing its US spending on Facebook for the rest of the year. That, however, only accounts for about 10 per cent of the overall estimated $250 million it spends on Facebook advertising annually, according to Richard Greenfield of LightShed Partners, a media and tech research firm.

Steyer said they will urge global advertisers such as Unilever and Honda, which have only committed to pausing US ads, to pull their Facebook ads globally.

Annually, Facebook generates $70 billion in advertising sales and about a quarter of it comes from big companies such as Unilever with the vast majority of its revenue derived from small businesses.

Annually, Facebook generates $70 billion in advertising sales and about a quarter of it comes from big companies such as Unilever with the vast majority of its revenue derived from small businesses

Annually, Facebook generates $70 billion in advertising sales and about a quarter of it comes from big companies such as Unilever with the vast majority of its revenue derived from small businesses

But the publicity around its hate speech policies have hurt its perception and stock. On Friday, Facebook’s 8.3% decline in stock price wiped out $56 billion in market capitalization.

Coca-Cola pulled its advertisements from Facebook the same day, saying it wasn’t officially joining the boycott, but that it had paused on paid advertising across all social media platforms globally for at least 30 days.

Companies that have joined Facebook ad boycott 

Unilever

Verizon

Eddie Bauer

Eileen Fisher

Ben & Jerry’s

Patagonia

North Face

REI

Upwork

Rakuten Viber

Magnolia Pictures

Goodby Silverstein

Dove

Coca-Cola

Dockers

Levi’s

Honda 

advertising policies to determine whether revisions are needed. We also expect greater accountability and transparency from our social media partners.’

Friday’s massive drop in valuation cut deep into Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s personal fortune, pushing him down from third to fourth place on Bloomberg Billionaires Index and leaving him with a new net worth of $82.3 billion. 

Zuckerberg responded to the boycott in a Facebook Live video Friday where he announced the company would begin labeling ‘harmful’ content from politicians that remains ‘newsworthy’.

Though he did not name Trump, the policy comes in response to a campaign demanding Facebook impose tighter restrictions on ‘misinformation’ in the president’s campaign ads, and on his inflammatory posts. 

Twitter has already slapped warning labels on some of the president’s tweets that it deemed abusive or threatening, and unlike Facebook, Twitter banned all political campaign ads.

Zuckerberg slammed the move when Twitter first labeled a Trump tweet, saying it wasn’t up to social media companies to be the ‘arbiters of truth’ – but the Facebook CEO appears to have had a change of heart following the punishing advertiser boycott. 

Steyer and Gonzalez said Facebook’s efforts on Friday to introduce new measures to ban ads and label hate speech from politicians fell short of the campaign’s demands.

‘If they think they are done based on Friday, they are sorely mistaken,’ Gonzalez said. ‘We don’t need a one-off policy here and there. We need comprehensive policy.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


Comments are closed.