As Facebook ad boycott enters new phase, impact unclear

Andrew Cummings
June 30, 2020

Coca-Cola is another global giant to stop advertising for 30 days. And while most of the 184 companies on the boycott * a href="https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1VSGhDwXm18yFf2BVCz0QJYFjCHrPhDuO-m5rCo0zoqI/htmlview?pru=AAABcyPgxSs*T6wcjzjzSikohiDqdkSuyA#gid=0" *list as of Monday morning are not large, it would "likely take tens of thousands of [smaller advertisers], acting over a significant period of time, to put a big dent in Facebook's bottom line", noted CNN Business' Brian Fung.

In a rare move last week, Zuckerberg attended a client council meeting, flanked by chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg and vice-president of global marketing solutions Carolyn Everson, to explain the company's position over hate speech and political content moderation, seeking to assure ad companies including Omnicom and Dentsu Aegis Network.

"The investments we have made in artificial intelligence mean that we find almost 90 per cent of Hate Speech we action before users report it to us, while a recent European report found Facebook assessed more hate speech reports in 24 hours than Twitter and YouTube", the company said in an email.

Canadian companies are joining a growing list of top worldwide brands vowing not to advertise on Facebook Inc.in July because of the company's refusal to deal with the spread of hateful content on its platform. "Facebook needs to address this issue quickly and effectively in order to stop advertising exits from potentially spiraling out of control".

The renewed push to urge more companies outside of the United States to join demonstrates the level of frustration felt by social justice groups and the companies that support them over Facebook's lack of action on misinformation and hate speech, Steyer said.


Facebook is in hot water for what critics say is a failure to police hate speech and content promoting violence, including posts from President Donald Trump. Facebook shares on Friday closed down more than 8% in response to the Unilever announcement. Zuckerberg noted that artificial-intelligence systems and human review teams now remove 90% of identified hate speech before anyone reports it to Facebook.

But like Coca-Cola, Starbucks said it was not joining that boycott.

He said: "We're expanding our ads policy to prohibit claims that people from a specific race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, caste, sexual orientation, gender identity or immigration status are a threat to the physical safety, health or survival of others".

As part of the new restrictions, the platform will ban ads that suggest immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers are "inferior" or express contempt, dismissal or disgust directed at them. "We will continue to discuss with media partners how they will deal with unacceptable content", the spokesperson added.

"We've entered a totally new era of digital activism", said Greg Sterling, a digital marketing analyst and contributing editor at Search Engine Land.


Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook also would add tags to posts that are "newsworthy" but violate platform rules - following the lead of Twitter, which has used such labels on tweets from Trump.

"To clarify one point: there is no newsworthiness exemption to content that incites violence or suppresses voting".

Other measures outlined by Zuckerberg related to the upcoming United States election.

Any lasting impacts on Facebook Inc. and other big platforms will depend, of course, on how long advertisers withhold their spending.


Other reports by iNewsToday

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