Why are advertisers boycotting Facebook?

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On the 30th of June 2020, Coca-Cola shared a media statement from James Quincey, the chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola, on their LinkedIn page, to be pausing all advertisements on every social media platform for at least 30 days, which could cost major social media platforms like Facebook to lose at least $22.1 million. The post itself received 2,837 reactions and 54 comments of complimenting the action after being published for 16 hours.

Who started the boycott?

Two weeks ago, a group of civil rights organizations including the Anti-Defamation League, the NAACP, and Color of Change called on businesses to “hit pause on hate” and not advertise on Facebook in July. By the 30th of June, there are already 90 brands that have participated in the boycott.

Why is Facebook targeted?

Facebook has always been criticized for being insensitive to racist and hateful content for years. In 2017, Facebook let hate speech regarding Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar to spread across the platform; in 2019, the infamous mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand was being livestreamed on the platform but Facebook only reacted to the incident after two months, which is seen as too slow on making a response. As holding racial justice is seen to be the responsibility of social media giants like Facebook, the platform should be more sensitive and proactive in stopping racial activities to bring positive influence to the world. Therefore, advertisers are now “punishing” Facebook and hoping to see significant changes to be made.

Who else joined the boycott?

Because the main revenue stream for Facebook came from advertising, stopping the advertisement could hurt the platform. In fact, Facebook’s shares plunged by 8%, losing $50 billion in market value when the market opened on the 30th of June 2020. So, are you curious about which brands joined the boycott and how much is Facebook losing?

  1. Coca-Cola, $22.1 million
  2. Ford, $20 million
  3. Hershey’s, $36.5 million
  4. Microsoft, $115.9 million
  5. Starbucks, $94.9 million

What changes do advertisers hope to see?

The Stop Hate for Profit campaign outlines 10 steps it wants Facebook to take to better address hate speech on its platform.

  1. Hiring a C-suite-level executive with a civil rights background who will review the company’s products and rules for discrimination, bias and hate.
  2. Participating in a regular audit by an independent third-party about identity-based misinformation and hate. The results would be published online.
  3. Notifying businesses if their ads are shown next to content Facebook pulled down that violated its rules and give them a refund.
  4. Finding and removing Facebook groups on white supremacy, militia, antisemitism, violent conspiracies, Holocaust denialism, vaccine misinformation and climate denialism. 
  5. Adopting policy changes to help combat hateful content.
  6. Stop recommending or amplifying groups or content with ties to hate, misinformation or conspiracies to users.
  7. Creating a way to automatically flag hateful content in private groups for human review.
  8. Stop exempting politicians from fact-checking, removing misinformation about voting and prohibiting calls to violence from politicians. (Facebook says that it will remove content that suppresses voting and incites violence including from politicians, but critics have disagreed with how the company interprets its rules.)
  9. Creating expert teams to review identity-based hateful content and harassment. 
  10. Allowing people facing severe hate or harassment to talk to a Facebook employee.

What are your thoughts about the boycott? What else do you think that Facebook can do better? If you have enjoyed reading our articles, subscribe to our email newsletter and never miss out anymore!

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