Unilever, Coca-Cola and several global brands pull advertising from Facebook

This comes as Facebook faces major criticism for its inaction over rampant hate and harassment on the platform.
Mark Zuckerg
Mark Zuckerg
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Joining several global brands, consumer goods major Unilever said that it has decided to stop advertising on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in the US amid Facebook’s inaction over hate speech.

“Given our Responsibility Framework and the polarized atmosphere in the U.S., we have decided that starting now through at least the end of the year, we will not run brand advertising in social media newsfeed platforms Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in the U.S. Continuing to advertise on these platforms at this time would not add value to people and society,” Unilever said in a statement on Friday.

With brands pulling advertising from Facebook and its companies, Bloomberg reported on Friday that Mark Zuckerberg became $7.2 billion poorer. This happened after Facebook’s shares fell by over 8.3% on Friday.

“The share-price drop eliminated $56 billion from Facebook’s market value and pushed Zuckerberg’s net worth down to $82.3 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index,” Bloomberg reported.

Unilever joins several other companies including Verizon, Coca-Cola, Ben and Jerry’s, Hersheys, North Face, among others.

Coca-Cola announced its decision on Friday and James Quincey, Chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company said in a statement that there is no place for racism in the world and there is no place for racism on social media. “The Coca-Cola Company will pause paid advertising on all social media platforms globally for at least 30 days. We will take this time to reassess our advertising policies to determine whether revisions are needed. We also expect greater accountability and transparency from our social media partners,” he said.

Verizon too, announced its decision on Friday.

“We have strict content policies in place and have zero tolerance when they are breached, we take action… We’re pausing our advertising until Facebook can create an acceptable solution that makes us comfortable and is consistent with what we’ve done with YouTube and other partners,” John Nitti, Verizon’s chief media officer reportedly said in a statement.

According to CNBC, Verizon’s advertising spend on Facebook last month was around $2 million. Unilever and Verizon are reportedly among the top 100 advertisers on Facebook.

Stop Hate for Profit

A week ago, a group of organizations launched a campaign called Stop Hate for Profit, asking advertisers to pause their spending on Facebook and Instagram ads for the month of July 2020.

In an open letter to all companies advertising on Facebook, Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO and national director of the Anti-Defamation League wrote that when it comes to dealing with rampant hate and harassment, Facebook continues to come up short. “What are they doing with $70 billion in revenue and $17 billion in profit? Their hate speech, incitement, and misinformation policies are inequitable. Their harassment victim services are inadequate. Their advertising placement’s proximity to hateful content is haphazard. And their “civil rights” audit transparency reports aren’t helpful to the civil rights community,” he wrote.

“Every day, we see ads from companies placed adjacent to hateful content, occupying the same space as extremist recruitment groups and harmful disinformation campaigns. Your ad buying dollars are being used by the platform to increase its dominance in the industry at the expense of vulnerable and marginalized communities who are often targets of hate groups on Facebook,” Jonathan added.

Facebook’s response

Responding to criticism Facebook has been receiving over inaction, Mark Zuckerberg, on Friday, unveiled some new policy changes to the social networking website including authoritative information about voting, crackdown on voter suppression, and fighting hate speech.

Speaking of hate speech, he said that the platform will prohibit a wider category of hateful content in ads by expanding its 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.

“We're also expanding our policies to better protect immigrants, migrants, refugees and asylum seekers from ads suggesting these groups are inferior or expressing contempt, dismissal or disgust directed at them,” he added.

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