The #StopHateForProfit campaign is snowballing. It has entered the big league with mega businesses joining in from all parts of the globe. Zuckerburg has already lost at least $7 billion in ad revenue. Yet, his efforts to undo the damage have done little to improve the situation for the social media giant.
The pressure for Facebook is unprecedented. Although it has been subject to controversy lately – including Trump’s impeachment disinformation, and Nancy Pelosi’s doctored video – Facebook’s mammoth ad machine has continued to churn out money unaffected. Now, with big household names joining the advertising boycott, the company looks less invincible.
What caused the boycott?
Last week, a civil rights coalition, which includes the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the NAACP, launched the #StopHateForProfit campaign and called on major corporations to put a pause on Facebook advertising.
The reason was Facebook’s “repeated failure to meaningfully address the vast proliferation of hate on its platforms.” The company’s inaction on incendiary posts from President Donald Trump tuned into a force it cannot ignore.
A series of controversial Trump posts — including one during the racial justice protests that said “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” – were left intact by Facebook while Twitter labeled them for glorifying violence or spreading misinformation. This is leaving Facebook and Zukerburg in the mire of severe pushback from the civil society as well as global marketers.
The campaign culminated on Friday when home goods giant Unilever announced that it would be halting advertising on Facebook for at least the remainder of the year. It was a big development prompting speculation of a possible domino effect with other big advertisers.
Today, the campaign has been joined by Coca Cola, outdoor retailers REI, The North Face, and Patagonia, Starbucks, Upwork, Dashlane, Eddie Bauer, Hershey’s, Honda, Levi Strauss, and Verizon, among many others. The list is growing by the day.
How has Zuckerburg responded?
It’s pertinent to note that Facebook came under scrutiny last year for saying it would not fact-check politicians’ posts. But this time, Facebook’s decision not to take action on incendiary posts from President Donald Trump has turned into a force the company cannot ignore.
Facebook has raced to pacify advertisers in the past week. It held a press conference to inform marketers that it’s working to close the “trust deficit.” In a bid to contain the boycott wave, the company also sent out multiple emails to advertisers. Zuckerburg himself promised people to ban hateful ads and label controversial posts from politicians in his Friday’s public address.
Vice president of Facebook’s global business group, Carolyn Everson, said in a statement to CNN on Friday, “We deeply respect any brand’s decision and remain focused on the important work of removing hate speech and providing critical voting information. Our conversations with marketers and civil rights organizations are about how, together, we can be a force for good.”
But, commentators say that Zuckerburg hasn’t taken any palpable measure to address the boycott in spite of the mounting pressure. “Zuckerberg’s address was 11 minutes of wasted opportunity to commit to change,” tweeted Rashad Robinson, president of the civil rights group Color of Change, one of the boycott’s organizers.
Trump’s provocative posts: Twitter Vs. Facebook
On 27 May 2020, Trump wrote about mail-in ballots on Twitter and Facebook, saying they will be anything less than substantially fraudulent. Twitter put its first ever fact-check label on the tweet, soon after which and Trump threatened to “strongly regulate” or even “close down” social media platforms.
But this didn’t deter Twitter. On 19 June, Twitter labeled a video tweeted by Donald Trump as having “manipulated media” for the first time. On 23 June, the social network slapped a “public interest” label on another Trump tweet as the platform’s scrutiny intensifies.
In comparison, Facebook did nothing about such incendiary or misleading posts. In fact, in an interview with Fox News, Mark Zuckerberg had rebuked Twitter for its decision to tag President Donald Trump’s tweets with fact-check links, saying that private companies “shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth.”