Advertiser momentum against Facebook's content and monetization policies continues to grow.
Last night, Verizon (which owns TechCrunch) said it will be pausing advertising on Facebook and Instagram "until Facebook can create an acceptable solution that makes us comfortable and is consistent with what we’ve done with YouTube and other partners."
Then today, it was joined by consumer goods giant Unilever, which said it will halt all U.S. advertising on Facebook, Instagram (owned by Facebook) and even Twitter, at least until the end of the year.
“Based on the current polarization and the election that we are having in the U.S., there needs to be much more enforcement in the area of hate speech,” Unilever’s executive vice president of global media Luis Di Como told The Wall Street Journal.
The effort to bring advertiser pressure to bear on Facebook began with a campaign called #StopHateforProfit, which is coordinated by the Anti-Defamation League, the NAACP, Color of Change, Free Press and Sleeping Giants. The campaign is calling for changes that are supposed to improve support for victims of racism, anti-Semitism and hate, and to end ad monetization on misinformation and hateful content.
The list of companies who have agreed to pull their advertising from Facebook also includes outdoor brands like REI, The North Face and Patagonia. (An important caveat: Gizmodo noted that it's not clear whether these advertisers are also pulling their money from the Facebook Audience Network.)
The polarized atmosphere places an increased responsibility on brands to build a trusted & safe digital ecosystem. Our action starts now until the end of 2020.https://t.co/flHhKid6jD pic.twitter.com/QdzbH2k3wx
— Unilever #StaySafe (@Unilever) June 26, 2020
Facebook provided the following statement in response to Unilever's announcement:
We invest billions of dollars each year to keep our community safe and continuously work with outside experts to review and update our policies. 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% of Hate Speech [and take] 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.
And Twitter provided a statement from Sarah Personette, vice president of global client solutions:
Our mission is to serve the public conversation and ensure Twitter is a place where people can make human connections, seek and receive authentic and credible information, and express themselves freely and safely. We have developed policies and platform capabilities designed to protect and serve the public conversation, and as always, are committed to amplifying voices from underrepresented communities and marginalized groups. We are respectful of our partners’ decisions and will continue to work and communicate closely with them during this time.
As of 1:57 p.m. EDT, Facebook stock was down more than 7% from the start of trading. CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he will also be addressing these issues at a town hall starting at 2 p,m. EDT today.