Advertisers boycott Facebook over hate speech

The Stop Hate for Profit campaign calls on corporations to pull money from the platform over the company's failure to address misinformation and racist content

A campaign asking advertisers to boycott Facebook for the month of July is picking up steam. Ice cream brand Ben & Jerry’s is the latest business to join Stop Hate for Profit, a movement that has also gained support from the North Face, Patagonia, REI and Eddie Bauer.

The boycott is a collaboration between the Anti-Defamation League, the NAACP, Sleeping Giants, Color Of Change, Free Press and Common Sense. The organizations came together to challenge Facebook’s tolerance of hate speech on its platform, claiming that Facebook allows incitement to violence against protesters fighting for racial justice, and fails to protect Black users who call out racism.

The group notes Facebook also made Breitbart a “trusted source” and the Daily Caller a “fact checker” despite both media outlets having histories of working with known white nationalists and neo-Nazis.  

“We have been continually disappointed and stunned by Mark Zuckerberg’s commitment to protecting white supremacy, voter suppression and outright lies on Facebook,” said Rashad Robinson, president of Color of Change, in a press release. “As corporations take a stand against racism in our society, they should consider how their advertising dollars support Facebook making Black people less safe online.”

Stop Hate for Profit has a list of product recommendations for Facebook, including a list of ways to provide more support to people who are targets of racism, anti-Semitism and hate and increasing safety in private Facebook groups. They also challenge Facebook to stop generating revenue off misinformation and harmful content (plus offering refunds to advertisers and providing transparency reports), which is also where the boycott comes in. 

“We respect any brand’s decision, and remain focused on the important work of removing hate speech and providing critical voting information,” said Carolyn Everson, vice president of Facebook’s global business group, in a statement to Quartz.

Facebook made nearly $70 billion in revenue from advertising in 2019. Even if a July boycott makes only a small dent in the tech company’s profits, it still has symbolic power. Facebook is a huge and powerful advertising platform that generates a ton of revenue, and it’s not a neutral medium.

On this side of the border, Friends of Canadian Broadcasting has been running a campaign accusing Facebook of stealing revenue from news outlets. Mark Zuckerberg’s face is on “Wanted” posters that have appeared all over Toronto.

Facebook has recently given $1 million to the Canadian Press to set up a one-year fellowship initiative that will create eight new reporting jobs. It’s also working with Digital Main Street to offer free ads to local businesses, which will move them to Facebook’s ad platform. Some big Canadian newspapers are still calling on Facebook to subsidize the journalism industry, whose market the social media giant has eaten up. 


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