Large companies like Coca-Cola and Starbucks pull advertising spend from social media

Andrew Cummings
June 29, 2020

Facebook has tightened its policies around hate speech and misinformation amid a growing advertising boycott from some of the world's biggest brands.

The decision on Friday by the maker of major consumer goods, such as Dove soap, to follow other brands in an advertising boycott prompted a rare reaction from Facebook's investors.

Facebook shares dropped by 8.32 percent, the most in three months, shedding 56 billion USA dollars of its market value.

Both companies announced global pauses on all social media platforms for indeterminate periods of time, and both indicated that they will continue to "discuss" how to address hate speech with their "media partners".

Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has announced a change in the company's policies to now prohibit hate speech and racist content in its advertisement.

In the past few weeks, Unilever, which owns Ben & Jerry's ice cream and Dove soap; Coca-Cola, Verizon, outdoors companies North Face, Patagonia, Eddie Bauer and REI; film company Magnolia Pictures; jeans maker Levi's, and other companies have opted out of advertising either exclusively on Facebook or other platforms as well.

The beverage giant on June 26 said it would pause spending on all social media platforms globally, including Google-owned YouTube, for at least 30 days.

The brands boycotting the platform includes big spenders like Unilever, Coca-cola and Verizon, as well as some other smaller companies like Patagonia, REI, Lending Club and The North Face, according to a running list from Sleeping Giants. "Facebook needs to address this issue quickly and effectively in order to stop advertising exits from potentially spiraling out of control".

Birchbox on Friday said it will pause Facebook and Instagram ads in July and reallocate ad dollars to other platforms.

The chain issued an apology, made clear that its policy going forward would not allow a repeat of the Philadelphia incident, and closed its more than 8,000 company-operated United States stores to allow employees to receive racial-diversity training.

"We are actively engaging with all digital platforms to make meaningful change and impact trust and transparency", the statement said. They have taken meagre steps after each catastrophe where their platform played a part. Sey acknowledged some of the recent steps Zuckerberg has taken, but "it's simply not enough", she said.

However Finnish firms joining the boycott have not been vocal about their actions. He said the company will put a link to the voting hub on all posts related to voting, and will also start marking posts that violate Facebook's rules, although the posts will remain up if they are newsworthy.

Facebook said it would ban a "wider category of hateful content" in adverts in response to anger over its failure to moderate violent and hateful content.

For instance, several weeks ago when Mr Trump tweeted that mail-in voting would lead to fraud, Twitter labelled the post to fact-check it. Mr Zuckerberg left the same post alone on Facebook.

Also, Facebook will do more to protect immigrants, migrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers from ads that suggest they are inferior to other groups of people or from ads that express contempt, dismissal or disgust directed at them.

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