A US campaign urging major companies to boycott Facebook advertising is now eyeing global expansion.
With some of the world’s largest advertisers now on board – including Unilever and Verizon – the US-based #StopHateforProfit campaign believes it can now go international. Speaking with Reuters, Jim Steyer, chief executive of Common Sense Media and one of the campaign’s organisers, said that more than 160 companies have signed up so far.
The campaign is calling for companies to boycott putting ads on Facebook until the social network takes a greater stand against hate and racist content on its platforms. Steyer said that the “next frontier is global pressure”, with the campaign hoping to get those already signed up to expand their boycott outside the US.
This will begin in Europe, where the campaign hopes to encourage the EU to take a tougher stance against social media companies. The European Commission recently announced new guidelines for social media companies that would require them to submit monthly reports on how they are tackling misinformation on their platforms.
Last Friday, (26 June), Facebook announced that it would start labelling potentially harmful posts, with Mark Zuckerberg saying this was to “address the reality of the challenges our country is facing and how they’re showing up across our community”.
Adverts that attempt to describe different races as a threat will be banned and content that could incite violence or suppress voting – including from politicians – will also be banned.
Small percentage of revenue
Meanwhile, other companies have announced that they will pause advertising spending on social media platforms, but have said they are doing this separately from #StopHateforProfit. Coca-Cola said that it would pause paid advertising for at least 30 days across all social media “to reassess our advertising policies to determine whether revisions are needed”.
Starbucks announced a similar pause, saying that it believes “more must be done to create welcoming and inclusive online communities”, but that it won’t be joining #StopHateforProfit.
In 2019, Facebook earned nearly $70bn in advertising revenue, but analysts have said that the highest-spending 100 brands accounted for just 6pc of this revenue. The majority of ad revenue came from much smaller businesses, suggesting the campaign may not have a major financial impact on Facebook.
In response to the growing boycott, Facebook said it had a lot more work to do to tackle racism on its platforms and was in the process of teaming up with civil rights groups and experts to create better online tools. It also said its investments in AI have helped flag 90pc of hate speech before users report it manually.