Ford, Clorox, Adidas halt Facebook spending as boycott grows


Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reversed course last week, announcing the platform would begin to label posts from politicians that violate its policies.

"We believe more must be done to create welcoming and inclusive online communities, and we believe both business leaders and policy makers need to come together to affect real change", the statement said. Now 160 companies have joined in the boycott, some fully with complete advertising stops worldwide, other with temporary USA-only advertising boycotts via Facebook.

Additionally, Starbucks confirmed to TIME that it would not be signing up for the #StopHateForProfit campaign and pledged its support to have conversations internally and with social media platforms about what parameters should look like regarding hate speech. The "Stop Hate For Profit" campaign argues that social media platforms haven't done enough to address racism and hate speech on their platforms.

The boycott gained momentum amid the latest civil unrest as activists have pressed Facebook to be more aggressive in curbing racism and inflammatory content, including from President Donald Trump.

The company said it wants to raise "awareness of the harmful, racist content and misinformation that is shared on these social platforms". Some analysts have said the financial impact of recent exits will be limited, citing past advertiser revolts.

The stock had tumbled 8.3 per cent Friday after Unilever, one of the world's largest advertisers, said it would cease spending on Facebook properties this year, eliminating US$56 billion in market value and shaving the net worth of Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg by more than US$7 billion.

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Other brands joining the pause late last week or over the weekend include Beam Suntory and American Honda (the latter's estimated 2019 U.S. Facebook spend was $6 million).

"Non-profit groups are appealing to advertisers to police social media, given the general reluctance or refusal of the companies to do so themselves". The coffee chain does not consider the video platform a social media platform per se and they said they're already working with site to ensure appropriate guidelines.

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.

Adidas, meanwhile, will pause advertising for its namesake and Reebok brands on Facebook and Instagram globally throughout July, a spokeswoman confirmed on Monday.

"The investments we have made in artificial intelligence mean that we find almost 90 per cent of Hate Speech we action before users report it to us, while a recent European report found Facebook assessed more hate speech reports in 24 hours than Twitter and YouTube", the company said in an email.

Zuckerberg has responded to the Facebook criticism by announcing that the company will add a link to all voting-related posts suggesting users investigate its new voter information hub. "In the meantime, Facebook can take steps to demonstrate it will reduce hate speech further on the platform; although more content oversight could bring more regulatory risks to the forefront".