Multiple high-profile companies have joined the ranks of those boycotting Facebook advertising over racist and violent content.
Facebook has been under increasing pressure over what many perceive as a tolerance for racist and violent posts and groups, which Facebook says fall under free speech. In the wake of George Floyd’s death, and the renewed focus on equality, Facebook’s policy of non-interference isn’t flying with other companies.
The movement comes following the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) calling out Facebook for tolerating posts and groups that promote racism and violence. A quick search by ADL researchers showed major companies’ ads side-by-side with content many would deem offensive.
“Facebook has been claiming that it is effectively addressing hate on its platforms. ADL and others, however, have continued to expose egregious examples of online hate, misinformation and extremism across the company’s products, particularly on Facebook and Instagram,” reads the ADL’s open letter. “Whether or not these posts technically violate Facebook’s complicated guidelines around hate speech, as a result of the platform’s casual placement of ads, paid advertisements run a risk of being placed next to divisive (and sometimes blatantly hateful) content. Indeed, even a cursory investigation conducted by ADL’s analysts immediately surfaced examples of prominent brands’ advertising displayed on newsfeeds next to hateful and conspiratorial content. Although we have not spoken to these companies, we can assume that their intentions when buying advertising on Facebook did not include being displayed alongside such content.”
As a result of the ADL’s open letter, company after company has pulled their advertising from Facebook and Instagram. Coca-Cola, The Hershey Company, Levi Strauss & Co, Verizon, Mozilla, Upwork, REI, Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, The North Face and Eddie Bauer are just a few of the organizations that have joined the boycott.
The lost revenue appears to be having an impact, as Facebook has started announcing changes to their policies in response. Whether these changes will go far enough remains to be seen.