Companies Boycott Facebook, Pull Ads Over Hate Speech and Misinformation

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Hundreds of companies and brands, like Disney  (DIS) - Get Report, Verizon  (VZ) - Get Report, Unilever  (UN) - Get Report, Coca-Cola  (KO) - Get Report, Starbucks  (SBUX) - Get Report, and Ben & Jerry’s are pausing or cutting their advertising spend on Facebook  (FB) - Get Report because of the platform’s lax stance on moderating hate speech, racism, and misinformation. 

Disney is the latest to do so, reportedly dramatically slashing its advertising budget on the social media platform, according to The Wall Street Journal. Disney was Facebook’s top U.S. advertiser for the first six months of 2020.

A boycott that circulated in June has hundreds of brands on-board, pledging to pull ad budgets from Facebook and Instagram at least through July. The boycott, which is being promoted with the hashtag #StopHateForProfit, calls on businesses to "stand in solidarity with our most deeply held American values of freedom, equality and justice and not advertise on Facebook's services in July."

"Let's send Facebook a powerful message: Your profits will never be worth promoting hate, bigotry, racism, antisemitism and violence," it says.

Clothing chain Eddie Bauer, outdoor recreation companies REI, Patagonia and the North Face, film distributor Magnolia Pictures, job listing platform Upwork, and others are also participating in the boycott.

Some of these companies will not run ads on Facebook through July, while others, like Unilever, have said they will not advertise on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for the remainder of 2020.

Facebook generates huge portions of its revenue from advertisements, and the social media company hasn’t taken a strong stand against misinformation or hate speech on its platform. In 2019, Facebook generated close to $70 billion in ad revenues. 

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently refused to remove a post by Donald Trump that referred to shooting protesters. A post containing the same language was flagged by Twitter for glorifying violence.

Facebook also does not fact-check political advertising, meaning posts with false claims related to voting exist on the platform in abundance. Twitter  (TWTR) - Get Report has banned political ads on its platform.

According to Kevin Roose, a technology reporter at The New York Times, many of Facebook's top posts and videos contain hate speech or misinformation.

For example, on the same day Zuckerberg posted a letter in support of Black Lives Matter, the top video on Facebook was from conservative activist Candace Owens, who said the following about George Floyd's killing: "I am not going to play a part of the broken black culture that always wants to martyr criminals."

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