Coca-Cola joins Facebook boycott with a pause on all social media advertising starting July 1st - The Verge

Coca-Cola joins Facebook boycott with a pause on all social media advertising starting July 1st - The Verge

Coca-Cola joins Facebook boycott with a pause on all social media advertising starting July 1st - The Verge

Posted: 27 Jun 2020 01:02 PM PDT

The Coca-Cola Company is pausing all digital advertising on social media platforms globally for at least 30 days starting July 1st, the soda giant announced on Friday evening.

The move is part of a broader boycott of Facebook and Instagram organized by the Anti-Defamation League, the NAACP, and other organizations called the "Stop Hate For Profit" campaign. Coca-Cola is going one step further than some of those companies and banning all ads globally on social media platforms, not just Facebook and Instagram. That would suggest the boycott will hit Twitter, YouTube, and other platforms as well.

"We will let them know we expect greater accountability, action and transparency from them."

"Starting on July 1, The Coca-Cola Company will pause paid advertising on all social media platforms globally for at least 30 days," reads a statement from Coca-Cola Company CEO James Quincey posted to the brand's website. "We will take this time to reassess our advertising standards and policies to determine whether revisions are needed internally, and what more we should expect of our social media partners to rid the platforms of hate, violence and inappropriate content. We will let them know we expect greater accountability, action and transparency from them."

Earlier Friday, Unilever joined Verizon as the two largest companies participating in the boycott prior to Coca-Cola's involvement. On Saturday, multinational beverage company Diageo said it also would "pause paid advertising globally on major social media platforms" as of July 1st.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also announced a series of policy changes that, while not explicitly in response to the boycott, appear designed to try and address many of the criticisms the company has faced of late regarding its lack of moderation of violent threats, hate speech, and misinformation posted by President Donald Trump and other controversial accounts and pages.

"This continues a significant trend of major brands — including Unilever and Verizon — committing to pause Facebook ads for at least the month of July," reads a statement from progressive nonprofit Color of Change, one of the organizers of the boycott. "Since Color Of Change and its partners, including the ADL and NAACP, launched the campaign on June 17, over 100 brands have signed on." Color of Change President Rashad Robinson said on Friday that chocolate brand Hershey's is also joining the boycott.

Yet while the boycott may be creating a wave of bad press for Facebook and Instagram, it's unlikely even major advertisers pausing ad spending for one month will have a substantial effect on Facebook's bottom line, as a majority of the company's ad revenue comes from direct-response ads from small and medium-sized businesses.

"We invest billions of dollars each year to keep our community safe and continuously work with outside experts to review and update our policies," a Facebook spokesperson said in an email to The Verge. "We've opened ourselves up to a civil rights audit, and we have banned 250 white supremacist organizations from Facebook and Instagram. The investments we have made in AI mean that we find nearly 90 percent of Hate Speech we action before users report it to us, while a recent EU report found Facebook assessed more hate speech reports in 24 hours than Twitter and YouTube. We know we have more work to do, and we'll continue to work with civil rights groups, GARM, and other experts to develop even more tools, technology and policies to continue this fight."

The ad boycott is part of an organized effort called Stop Hate For Profit

The Stop Hate For Profit campaign launched last week, starting with popular sports and outdoor lifestyle brands like The North Face and Patagonia. It has since gained steam with mainstream corporate America after picking up support from ice cream brand Ben & Jerry's and film distributor Magnolia Pictures. On Friday, Honda announced it was joining the campaign as well, and would halt advertising on Facebook and Instagram in July. "This is in alignment with our company's values, which are grounded in human respect," the company tweeted.

In an open letter posted Thursday, the ADL provided more concrete details regarding the changes the boycott seeks to produce in Facebook's policies and its approach to moderation.

"Today, we are asking all businesses to stand in solidarity with our most deeply held American values of freedom, equality and justice and not advertise on Facebook's services in July," read an ad the Stop Hate For Profit campaign ran in the Los Angeles Times earlier this week. "Let's send Facebook a powerful message: Your profits will never be worth promoting hate, bigotry, racism, antisemitism and violence."

UPDATED June 27th 8:38AM ET: Added tweet comment from Honda

UPDATED June 27th 3:44PM ET: Added comment from Facebook spokesperson

Facebook Ad Boycott Campaign ‘Stop Hate For Profit’ Gathers Momentum And Scale: Inside The Movement For Change - Forbes

Posted: 24 Jun 2020 07:47 AM PDT

Facebook's stated corporate purpose is "to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together." But in recent months, the social media agent has been acting in ways that are in direct contravention to this noble purpose, and in fact has contributed to sowing division and discord in the world - all in its chase for their twin holy grails of growth and engagement, regardless of the cost to the fabric of our society and our democracy.

On June 17, a coalition consisting of Color Of Change, NAACP, ADL, Sleeping Giants, Free Press, and Common Sense Media called on Facebook's advertisers to hit pause on ad spending on Facebook and Instagram for July 2020 to demand that Facebook address racism across their platforms via the Stop Hate for Profit campaign. As the Color of Change website states: "From the monetization of hate speech to discrimination in their algorithms to the proliferation of voter suppression to the silencing of Black voices, Facebook has refused to take responsibility for hate, bias, and discrimination growing on their platforms. And what has allowed Facebook to continue racist practices is the $70B of revenue from corporations every year. Companies have a choice to make about whether they want their businesses featured on Facebook's platforms side-by-side with racist attacks on Black people."

In short, companies who have publicly stated support for Black Lives Matter on their social media channels, need to take a long hard look at whether their ad dollars are undermining their lofty words by funding a platform which directly contravenes their values.

The Stop Hate For Profit website goes even further in its condemnation: "(Facebook) allowed incitement to violence against protesters fighting for racial justice in America in the wake of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade,  Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks and so many others. They named Breitbart News a 'trusted news source' and made The Daily Caller a 'fact checker' despite both publications having records of working with known white nationalists. They turned a blind eye to blatant voter suppression on their platform."

The list of requests from the campaign are simple and actionable:

  1. Provide more support to people who are targets of racism, antisemitism and hate
  • Create a separate moderation pipeline for users who express that they have been targeted because of specific identity characteristics such as race or religion. This pipeline must include experts on various forms of identity-based hate.
  • Create a threshold of harm on the platform where they will put a target of hate and harassment in touch with a live Facebook employee to help them address their concerns.
  • Release data from their existing reporting form around identity-based hate. For example, how many reports of hate speech based on race or ethnicity did they get in 2019? How many, and what kinds of actions were taken? 
  1. Stop generating ad revenue from misinformation and harmful content.
  • Create internal mechanisms (for every media format on every Facebook platform) that automatically remove all ads from content labeled as misinformation or hate.
  • Change the advertising portal on all Facebook products to tell advertisers how often their ads were shown next to content that was later removed for misinformation or hate.
  • Provide refunds to advertisers for those advertisements
  • Prove it: send out an audited transparency report specifically addressing these suggestions.
  1. Increase Safety in Private Groups on Facebook.
  • At the request of a member of a private group, provide at least one Facebook-affiliated moderator per group with more than 150 members. Consider more moderators for even larger groups.
  • Create an internal mechanism to automatically flag content in private groups associated with extremist ideologies for human review. This content and associated groups would then be reviewed by internal subject matter experts on extremism.

It should be noted that this external revolt is in solidarity with those brave employees of Facebook who are standing up for the values of the company, via walkouts, resignations and open protests. I personally have friends at the company whom I respect and admire, I've worked with Facebook in the past with my consultancy Conspiracy of Love, and I've met the wonderful men and women who work there. I applaud everyone there who has stood up for what they believe the companies values are. This is what true employee activism looks like, when you are forced to become the moral conscience of your company, even if it means putting you at odds with your leadership.

I spoke to one of the leaders behind the boycott, Derrick Johnson, president and CEO, NAACP who said, "The flagrant disregard Facebook has shown in putting a stop to the hateful lies and dangerous propaganda on its platform exemplifies a lack of concern for the greater public and nullifies any notion of corporate social responsibility coming from its leadership. Any brand that claims to have the best interest of its consumers in mind should undoubtedly join the #StopHateForProfit campaign. Facebook is ultimately damaging its credibility with the American public, and any company that wants to avoid doing the same should send a message that we will no longer accept disinformation during this critical time." 

One of the first companies to pull their money was Talkspace, an online platform I've written about which provides online mental health counselling. CEO Oren Frank offered this blunt assessment. "I think that Facebook made a clear mistake by not removing or adding a warning to a message that was inciting violence, and it should really have been a simple decision to make after Twitter showed them how to do the right thing. I encourage everyone that can help, in any way shape or form, to push Facebook towards authentic ownership of the content and the impact of its platform. This isn't about politics or ideology, but about basic decency and responsibility." On June 3, Sara Spivey, the CMO of the marketing technology company Braze, tweeted that she was "reallocating dollars planned for Facebook to other places" and called on "fellow marketers" to follow.

The North Face was the first large brand to join the campaign (now followed by REI, Patagonia, Ben and Jerry's, Upwork, Eddie Bauer, Arc'teryx, Magnolia Pictures, and many more). I caught up with Steve Lesnard, CMO of The North Face to find out how the brand took the decision. "We believe that in this cultural moment of pain, that normal is not good enough, and we all need to drive positive change immediately. And we believe that action speaks louder than words. So when we saw the NAACP announcement, we very quickly just aligned and said, you know what, we're going to do this. We're going to do this, so that we can really make a statement and hopefully challenge and inspire Facebook to really take a hard look at their policies for stricter rules on hate speech, racist rhetoric, and the spread of misinformation. The stakes are too high, with what's coming in our society and we need to act immediately.We want to see strict rules on hate speech and racist rhetoric, in discriminating against misinformation. And so, we hope that Facebook will come back with the point of view on how they want address it. And that's the dialogue that we're looking for."

What is also unprecedented has been digital media agencies like 360i (who have clients like McCormick & Co, Discover Financial Services and Unilever) advising clients to join the boycott. One of the first voices to publicly stand up was Elijah Harris, a senior vice president at IPG Mediabrands, whose powerful piece on LinkedIn is a must-read.

I asked him the question: While we've seen major brands come out and boycott Facebook, it is quite brave and rare for a digital media agency to do so. What do you think the moral obligation is for agencies to advise their clients against accidentally or deliberately funding platforms that incite violence? Is it a question of brand safety or something bigger than that?

"Ideally, the agency-client relationship is based on shared values, which would create a standard set of behaviors and beliefs that govern what is and is not acceptable from media partners. With this type of understanding, it's less of a moral obligation to advise clients, and should just be part of the job. People are fed up with recent events including the senseless killings of black Americans, paired with Facebook's decision to allow potentially harmful content to go unchecked on its platform. Marketers and consumers alike want change. It should not have taken these extreme circumstances for the industry to take a stand, but I believe we have a real opportunity to create change, drive accountability and most importantly, protect people," said Harris.

Explained: Why US corporates like Unilever and Verizon are pulling ads from Facebook - The Indian Express

Posted: 27 Jun 2020 08:23 PM PDT

Written by Rahel Philipose , Edited by Explained Desk | Margao, New Delhi | Updated: June 28, 2020 8:49:11 am
Facebook ads, unilever pulls ads from facebook, Verizon facebook ad, mark zuckerberg, Facebook unilever, stop hate for profit movement, us anti racism protests, indian express explained Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. (Reuters Photo/File)

Amidst a growing pressure campaign led by some of the world's most prominent corporates to boycott advertising on Facebook, its CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the social media platform was tightening its content moderation policies to better tackle hate speech and misinformation online.

Zuckerberg's announcement, streamed live on Facebook on Friday afternoon, came less than an hour after global consumer goods giant Unilever added its name to the list of nearly 100 companies that had pulled their advertising dollars from the social network this past week.

Facebook's recent policy tweaks did little to suppress the growing revolt among advertisers worldwide, who have criticised the company for allegedly failing to contain the rampant spread of false information and incendiary content on the platform.

This became apparent when later that day, Japanese carmaker Honda Motor Co. and US chocolate manufacturer Hersheys Company joined the global ad boycott campaign 'Stop Hate for Profit' — started by several US-based civil rights groups this month.

Coca-Cola Co., too, announced its decision to pause ads on all social media platforms, including Facebook, for at least 30 days. However, the beverage giant told Adweek that its decision was independent of the ongoing boycott campaign.

"We will take this time to reassess our advertising standards and policies to determine whether revisions are needed internally, and what more we should expect of our social media partners to rid the platforms of hate, violence and inappropriate content. We will let them know we expect greater accountability, action and transparency from them," a statement from the company's CEO James Quincey read.

How the Facebook ad boycott campaign gained momentum

In the wake of nationwide anti-racism protests sparked by the custodial killing of unarmed African-American George Floyd in Minneapolis, a number of prominent civil rights groups in the United States came together to urge businesses — big and small — to pull their ads from Facebook and Instagram. This movement came to be known as the 'Stop Hate for Profit' campaign.

The coalition — comprising Color of Change, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Sleeping Giants, Free Press, Anti-Defamation League (ADL), and Common Sense Media — accused Facebook of doing little to contain the spread of racist content online.

"(Facebook) allowed incitement to violence against protesters fighting for racial justice in America in the wake of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks and so many others," a statement on the campaign's website reads.

"99% of Facebook's $70 billion is made through advertising. Who will advertisers stand with? Let's send Facebook a powerful message: Your profits will never be worth promoting hate, bigotry, racism, antisemitism and violence," it says, urging businesses to pull their ads from the platform.

In the run-up to the 2020 US presidential election, the organisers of the campaign fear that a highly polarised audience on social media could increase the potential for spreading misinformation and discriminatory content.

The campaign gained significant steam with major brand names like US ice cream manufacturer Ben & Jerry's, movie distributor Magnolia Pictures, and outdoor apparel brand Northface joining the league of businesses boycotting ads on Facebook. However, it was when telecom giant Verizon announced that it was suspending advertising on the social media site that the debate about Facebook's content moderation policy really began to take centre stage.

"We're pausing our advertising until Facebook can create an acceptable solution that makes us comfortable and is consistent with we've done with YouTube and other partners," John Nitti, Chief Media Officer for Verizon, told CNN.

Verizon's announcement came after an open letter was sent by ADL to Facebook advertisers, which cited an instance where the wireless carried an ad alongside a post which promoted "hateful and antisemitic rhetoric".

With big household names like Unilever, Verizon, and Levis reevaluating its relationship with the social media platform and major advertising agencies urging its clients to join the protest, the campaign hopes that Facebook will respond by committing to changing its policies and creating a safe, non-discriminatory online experience for its millions of users.

The campaign's organisers have released a list of recommendations for Facebook to improve its content moderation policy. These include suggestions like: Provide more support to people who are targets of racism, antisemitism and hate; Stop generating ad revenue from misinformation and harmful content; and Increase Safety in Private Groups on Facebook.

Facebook's response

Prior to Zuckerberg's public address Friday, Facebook had reached out to over 200 of its advertisers and held a conference call to inform them that they were working towards narrowing what they called a "trust deficit".

In his 11-minute livestream Friday, Zuckerberg announced a number of initiatives that his company will soon be undertaking to quell growing concerns about hate speech. "I am committed to making sure Facebook remains a place where people can use their voice to discuss important issues," Zuckerberg said. "But I also stand against hate or anything that incites violence or suppresses voting, and we're committed to removing that content too, no matter where it comes from."

He stated that both Instagram and Facebook will up its efforts to protect the interests of marginalised groups and minorities — immigrants, migrants, refugees, among others. Additionally, he said the company would not necessarily take down posts that may violate its policies, but will instead begin to label them.

Zuckerberg stressed that posts that "may lead to violence or deprive people of their right to vote" will be taken down regardless of who has shared it or whether it is newsworthy. Facebook will also introduce a link to its voting information centre on posts which mention voting — including those shared by politicians.

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Facebook has been facing mounting pressure ever since the platform chose not to take down a controversial post shared by US President Donald Trump about the nationwide anti-racism protests. In his tweet, Trump's post allegedly threatened the use of force against demonstrators who had gathered to protest Floyd's death in Minneapolis. The companies' decision sparked widespread outrage and public condemnation. Hundreds of disgruntled Facebook employees even staged a 'virtual walk-out' to express their dissatisfaction.

The campaign's impact on Facebook

With advertising forming the foundation of Facebook's annual revenue of roughly $70 billion, experts have said that the recent spate of companies withdrawing their ads from the platform could pose a significant threat to the business.

Soon after Unilever announced that it would stop spending ad revenue on Facebook, the social media platform's shares plummeted by 8.3% — the biggest drop it has seen in three months. Last year, the consumer good giant poured in more than $42 million into the platform, according to a report by CNN. Verizon too, spent around $2 million on Facebook advertising, in the last month alone, CNBC reported.

The ongoing ad boycott campaign is not the first instance of protest against the social media platform in the recent past. Several attempts have been made, including the #deletefacebook trend in early 2018, to challenge Facebook's handling of user data as well as its content regulation policies. However, the companies' revenue and growth has never been seriously impacted by these protests, a Bloomberg report points out.

The organisers of the boycott campaign claim that hurting Facebook financially is not their sole aim. Civil rights group Sleeping Giants, in a tweet shared Friday, wrote: "Remember that the #StopHateForProfit campaign is not about damaging Facebook's bottom line, it's about a broader reckoning around the platform's lack of moderation of hate and disinformation."

Many have drawn parallels with a similar boycott campaign against YouTube in 2017. Then too, several big corporations had pulled their ad dollars over concerns that the platform's algorithm placed their ads next to hate speech. However, most advertisers returned to YouTube soon after, Forbes reported.

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