Major US companies pull advertising from Facebook over inaction by social media giant to stop hate speech

epa07655888 (FILE) - A Facebook logo on a stand during the Vivatech startups and innovation fair, in Paris, France, 16 May 2019 (reissued 18 June 2019). US social media giant Facebook announced on 18 June 2019 its plans for their cryptocurrency named Libra. It is scheduled to rolled out in 2020. EPA-EFE/Julien de Rosa

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A handful of U.S. companies have pulled advertising from Facebook Inc in support of a campaign that called out the social media giant for not doing enough to stop hate speech on its platforms.

The Stop Hate for Profit campaign was started by several U.S. civil rights groups after the death of African-American George Floyd in police custody triggered widespread protests against racial discrimination in the United States.

Unilever PLC

The consumer goods company said it will stop advertising on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in the United States for the rest of the year, citing “divisiveness and hate speech during this polarized election period in the U.S.”

Verizon Communications Inc

“Our brand safety standards have not changed. We’re pausing our advertising until Facebook can create an acceptable solution that makes us comfortable and is consistent with what we’ve done with YouTube and other partners,” the telecom operator told Reuters.

The North Face

The outdoor brand, a unit of VF Corp, said it would pull out of all Facebook-owned platforms.

“We’re in. We’re Out @Facebook.” (https://bit.ly/3eyboy4)

Ben & Jerry’s

The ice-cream maker said it would pause all paid advertising on Facebook and Instagram in the United States as of July 1. (https://benjerrys.co/3ds0IzF)

Dashlane

The subscription-based password manager said it was stopping all paid and organic posts on Facebook and Instagram through July at minimum. (https://bit.ly/2Vfe643)

“I’m calling on my fellow CMOs in tech to join me,” the company’s chief marketing officer, Joy Howard, said in a statement.

Eddie Bauer

“In support of the ‘#StopHateforProfit’ initiative, Eddie Bauer will suspend all paid ads on Facebook and Instagram through the end of July, effective immediately,” the clothing store chain said in a tweet. (https://bit.ly/2Yso440)

Eileen Fisher

The women’s clothing designer tweeted, “Along with other industry partners, we’re pausing all paid ads on Facebook and Instagram for the month of July.” (https://bit.ly/31jfvu3)

Goodby Silverstein

“We will join #StopHate4Profit and stop posting on Facebook for the month of July,” the advertising agency said in a statement on Twitter. (https://bit.ly/2NwVQPe)

Magnolia Pictures

The film distributor and studio became the first Hollywood company to join the movement. The company said in a tweet it would stop advertising on Facebook and Instagram, starting immediately, through at least the end of July. (https://bit.ly/2NrJg44)

Patagonia

“We will pull all ads on Facebook and Instagram, effective immediately, through at least the end of July, pending meaningful action from the social media giant,” the outdoor apparel brand said. (https://bit.ly/2ND3VCl)

Rakuten Viber

“Viber will remove all Facebook-related contact points from our app including Facebook Connect, Facebook SDK, and GIPHY, as well as cease all ad spending on Facebook,” Djamel Agaoua, chief executive officer of the messaging app company, said in a statement on Twitter. (https://bit.ly/3dFFwqk)

Recreational Equipment Inc

“For 82 years, we have put people over profits. We’re pulling all Facebook/Instagram advertising for the month of July,” REI tweeted. (https://bit.ly/3evC7eR)

Upwork Inc

“Upwork is hitting pause on hate with no Facebook advertising in July,” the company tweeted.

Meanwhile Facebook Inc said on Friday it would tighten its ban on hateful content in ads and start labeling newsworthy content when it violates the social media company’s policies.

The policy changes come as an advertising boycott campaign by several U.S. civil rights groups gains traction. On Friday, Unilever PLC said it would stop U.S. ads on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for the rest of the year, citing “divisiveness and hate speech during this polarized election period in the U.S.”

Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said in a live-streamed company townhall that Facebook would ban ads that claim people from groups based on race, religion, sexual orientation or immigration status are a threat to physical safety, health or survival.

Unilever, which owns brands like Dove Soap and Lipton tea, joins the growing ad boycott against Facebook as part of the “Stop Hate for Profit” campaign started after the death of George Floyd. The effort urges Facebook, which owns Instagram, to do more to stop hate speech and misinformation.

Shares of Facebook and Twitter both fell more than 7%.

“Continuing to advertise on these platforms at this time would not add value to people and society. We will be monitoring ongoing and will revisit our current position if necessary,” Unilever said in a statement.

The campaign specifically asks businesses not to advertise on Facebook’s platforms in July, though Twitter has also long been under pressure to clean up alleged abuses and misinformation on its platform.

“We have developed policies and platform capabilities designed to protect and serve the public conversation, and as always, are committed to amplifying voices from under-represented communities and marginalized groups,” said Sarah Personette, vice president for Twitter’s Global Client Solutions.

“We are respectful of our partners’ decisions and will continue to work and communicate closely with them during this time.”

More than 90 advertisers including Verizon Communications Inc and The North Face, a unit of VF Corp, have joined the campaign, according to a list by ad activism group Sleeping Giants, a partner in the campaign.

Earlier this week, ice-cream maker Ben & Jerry’s, a unit of Unilever, said it would pull its Facebook and Instagram ads in the United States.

In a statement, a Facebook spokeswoman pointed to its civil rights audit and investments in Artificial Intelligence that allow it to find and take action on hate speech.

“We know we have more work to do, and we’ll continue to work with civil rights groups, GARM, and other experts to develop even more tools, technology and policies to continue this fight,” she said, referring to the Global Alliance for Responsible Media.

Reuters 

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