POLITICS

The Facebook Ad Boycott Keeps Growing

A movement to pull ads from the social media platform has grown to 270 companies, including some prominent household names.

A boycott that’s encouraging advertisers to “Stop Hate for Profit” by pulling ads from Facebook-owned properties for the month of July has grown to at least 270 companies as of June 30, the day before the boycott takes effect.

The effort, organized by a consortium of civil rights groups like the Anti-Defamation League, NAACP and Color of Change, specifically calls out Facebook for failing to adequately address the “vast proliferation” of hate speech and misinformation on the platform.

Organizers also say Facebook permits “incitement to violence,” an example of which is President Trump’s “looting ... shooting” post, which Facebook did nothing to address. 

Another point of contention, according to the Stop Hate for Profit website, is that Facebook “named Breitbart News a ‘trusted news source’ and made The Daily Caller a ‘fact checker’ despite both publications having records of working with known white nationalists.” 

The group has released a list of recommendations that includes better moderation of content that targets people because of their race or religion, moderation of private groups that often harbor and promote extremist ideologies, and notifying advertisers when their ads are shown next to content that’s later removed for misinformation or hate.

Some big names are involved in the boycott, including Starbucks, Adidas, Reebok, Best Buy, Clorox, Coca-Cola, Conagra, the beverage company Diageo, Ford, HP, Honda, Hershey’s, The North Face, Puma, REI, Unilever, Verizon, Levi’s, Patagonia, Pepsi, Pfizer and more. (Verizon owns HuffPost’s parent company, Verizon Media.)

Microsoft hasn’t joined the boycott, but according to an internal chat transcript obtained by Axios, it hasn’t advertised on Facebook or Instagram since May over concerns about the content its ads were running against.

In a bid to staunch the bleeding, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg held a town hall last Friday where he renewed pledges to do a better job combating hate speech in ads and labeling posts from politicians.

The address did little to appease anyone.

“Unfortunately, the sum total of these exercises reveal that Facebook has been spending more time on their messaging rather than addressing the underlying problems on the platform,” Stop Hate for Profit said in a statement.

Color of Change President Rashad Robinson called the town hall “11 minutes of wasted opportunity to commit to change.”

Facebook earlier suggested that this would be the case. “We do not make policy changes tied to revenue pressure,” Facebook Vice President Carolyn Everson wrote in a memo to advertisers last week. “We set our policies based on principles rather than business interests.”

However successful the boycott may be in applying political pressure to Facebook, it’s unlikely to significantly affect the company’s bottom line. Facebook generated more than $70 billion in revenue last year, almost all of it from ad sales via 8 million different advertisers.

But Sleeping Giants, an organization involved in the campaign, says that isn’t really the point.

“Remember that the Stop Hate for Profit campaign is not about damaging Facebook’s bottom line, it’s about a broader reckoning around the platform’s lack of moderation of hate and disinformation,” the organization tweeted.

“Advertisers don’t want to sponsor violent, bigoted content or lies.” 

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