The number of companies that are pulling advertisements from social media platforms is continuing to grow. A group of companies led by the Anti-Defamation League and the NAACP, want Facebook to stop promoting hate on their social media platform, and momentum is accelerating. Facebook’s share price is starting to experience downward pressure, its profit engine of target marketing is facing increased scrutiny.
The Civil Rights Coalition is Growing
There appears to be a continued movement to stop hate on social media platforms. Facebook and Twitter have been in the stoplight, and companies are now joining a civil rights coalition that has started a #StopHateforProfit campaign. Since the hate speech cannot be stopped, the coalition is attempting to stop Facebook from repeating to address the proliferation of hate on its platform.
Since the campaign was lost several companies have joined and pulled their ad dollars from social media platforms. On Sunday, June 28, Starbucks the 6th largest advertiser on Facebook announced that it would be removing social media advertising. This followed companies including North Face, Upwork, and Dash line. Ben and Jerries, the Vermont Icecream Manufacturer, said they want “Facebook to take stronger action to stop its platforms from being used to divide our nation”.
Pepsi has also pulled its ads from Facebook. As opposed to other companies that have joined the coalition, Pepsi has yet to make an official announcement. Pepsi likely believes that their actions speak louder than their words. Last week, ad agency Goodby Silverstein an ad agency that works with other brands including Adobe, HP, PayPal, and BMW, encouraged clients and employees to join in the boycott.
Why a Boycott of Facebook’s Advertising
One of the best ways to attack the issue is to remove it from the source. Facebook has had a difficult time policing issues related to content that is posted on their site. Since Facebook generates about $1 billion a quarter from advertising revenues, the coalition that is attempting to stop this propaganda is focusing on the bottom line.
Facebook does not see itself as the arbiter of the truth. In a 2018 Senate hearing, Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook told Congress, that there are several areas that the company could work on as it pertains to the content on its platform. More recently, Zuckerberg said that More recently, he’s told Fox that he did not think Facebook should be the “arbiter of truth.”
How is Facebook Handling the Boycott?
Facebook is now attempting to stem the tide of outflow of its advertising dollars. Diageo, Coca Cola, and Verizon are canceling advertising from 1-month to 6-months to give Facebook a chance to figure out how they will handle this issue. On Friday, June 26, Zuckerberg announced that his company would not label posts that violate its policies but this information would remain on the platform as he believes it’s in the public interest. This news came just before Unilever announced that it would pause advertising on Facebook as well as Twitter. Companies do not want to see commentary that is supposed to divide the country showing up on social media platforms they advertise on ahead of the 2020 Presidential Election.
The group of companies that are pausing their advertising on social media platforms has swelled. Approximately 150 brands and agencies are now part of the boycott. While many of these companies are smaller, the larger ones take a huge bite of the bottom line. Verizon spent $850,000 in the first three weeks of June while Unilever spent $504,000 during the same period.
The Bottom Line
This issue is difficult for Facebook. It is battling issues that are politically motivated and go to the heart of the platform’s mission statement. In late May, after Twitter flagged a comment from President Trump, an executive order was signed to fight back. The President claims that social media platforms are engaging in selective censorship that is harming our national discourse. While many see the troubling behaviors and want online platforms to flag content as inappropriate, others believe that they have a right to their freedom of speech no matter what is being said. The executive order signed by President Trump is a prelude to a law that he wants to push through which would end the ability of social media platforms to fend of lawsuits for content that is placed on their sites. Social media platforms are now facing a Catch 22. They have large corporations that are now pulling ad dollars because they are not policing hard enough and the President who wants them not to police his strategy which is to divide and conquer. Facebook shares trading have come under pressure and are likely to see more selling until this issue is resolved.