Facebook Faces Backlash, Top Brands Pause Ads in #StopHateForProfit Campaign

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by Bhushan Akolkar · 4 min read
Facebook Faces Backlash, Top Brands Pause Ads in #StopHateForProfit Campaign
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Big brands from different sectors have asked Facebook to amp up its actions to fight against the rising misinformation and hate speech on its platform. The companies have blamed Facebook for failing to act in this direction.

Social media giant Facebook Inc (NASDAQ: FB) is facing major backlash from top brands across the globe in support of the #StopHateForProfit campaign. As a result, a majority of the brands are pausing their advertising on Facebook and asking the social media giant to raise their efforts in fighting against hate speech and disinformation.

Brands from across different industries have decided to pull their FB advertising plugs for the time being. Earlier on Thursday, Verizon Communications Inc (NYSE: VZ) and Unilever NV (AMS: UNA) announced their decision to pause their FB ads. Later on Friday, Coca-Cola Co (NYSE: KO) and Honda Motor Co Ltd (TYO: 7267) followed the cue.

Well, if this continues, analysts feel that Facebook can face a snowball effect of advertisers abandoning the platform. Facebook currently has 8 million advertisers worldwide. Thus, a large number of advertisers need to join this campaign to pull off a snowball.

However, these brands invest billions of dollars in FB ads every year and this could be a big hit to Facebook’s bottom line. On Friday, FB stock closed more than 8% down and remains under pressure. In a memo to these advertisers, the company’s VP of global business solutions Carolyn Everson said:

“Boycotting in general is not the way for us to make progress together. I also really hope by now you know that we do not make policy changes tied to revenue pressure. We set our policies based on principles rather than business interests.”

Businesses Ask Facebook for Strict Rules on Hate Speech

Over the last week, a group of advertisers has said that they would pause their Facebook ads for the month of July in the framework of the #StopHateForProfit campaign. Reportedly, more than 100 marketers are likely to join this list. These organizations and marketers have requested Facebook for stricter policing and laws on disinformation and hate speech.

Advertisements are Facebook’s single biggest source of income. Last year, the social media giant raked $70 billion in ad revenue. It is quite possible that with major brands pulling out their ads, Facebook can feel the heat to its revenue. Moreover, with the pandemic taking tall on the businesses this could go for longer. However, in a tweet on Friday, Sleeping Giants said that the financial-dent is not their end goal.

Later on Friday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg did a live stream wherein he said that his company will initiate new measures and change its policies to prohibit hate speech in the advertisements. With its new policies, Facebook said that it will ban ads wherein that cites people from a particular race, ethnicity, nationality, caste, gender, sexual orientation or immigration origin. Zuckerberg added:

“I am committed to making sure Facebook remains a place where people can use their voice to discuss important issues. But I also stand against hate or anything that incites violence or suppresses voting, and we’re committed to removing that content too, no matter where it comes from.”

Color for Change’s president Rashad Robinson expressed dissatisfaction over Facebook CEO’s response to the whole incident and the ongoing #StopHateForProfit campaign.

Unilever and Coca-Cola’s Stand for Hate Speech

Unilever, who owns big brands like Dove, Ben & Jerry’s and Hellmann’s said that it will halt advertising on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter in the U.S. up to the end of the year.

Luis Di Como, EVP of Global Media, Unilever, said:

“Given our Responsibility Framework and the polarized atmosphere in the U.S., we have decided that starting now through at least the end of the year, we will not run brand advertising in social media newsfeed platforms Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in the U.S. 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.”

Uniliver which controls more than two-dozen brands said that it will continue with its planned media investments in the U.S. by shifting to other platforms. On the other hand, Coca-Cola said that it will pause advertisements on all social media platforms at least for 30 days. Coca-Cola CEO and Chairman James Quincey said in a statement:

“There is no place for racism in the world and there is no place for racism on social media. The Coca-Cola Company will pause paid advertising on all social media platforms globally for at least 30 days. We will take this time to reassess our advertising policies to determine whether revisions are needed. We also expect greater accountability and transparency from our social media partners.”

Following Coca-Cola’s actions, Levi Strauss & Co (NYSE: LEVI) and Dockers will also make a similar move for July.

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Bhushan Akolkar

Bhushan is a FinTech enthusiast and holds a good flair in understanding financial markets. His interest in economics and finance draw his attention towards the new emerging Blockchain Technology and Cryptocurrency markets. He is continuously in a learning process and keeps himself motivated by sharing his acquired knowledge. In free time he reads thriller fictions novels and sometimes explore his culinary skills.

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