The New York Times reports that Facebook is "seeing a growing boycott by advertisers unhappy with its handling of misinformation and hate speech."
The list now reportedly includes Coca-Cola, Diageo, PepsiCo and Unilever. Not all of the companies are being overt about the boycott; some are just terming it a time-out to assess their own approaches to social media.
The Times writes that "the effort gained traction earlier in June amid pressure from civil rights organizations like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Anti-Defamation League. Color of Change, one of the groups backing the boycott, said that nearly 100 advertisers have joined.
"Many of the participants are small businesses, which make up the bulk of Facebook’s eight million advertisers. But recently, several large companies that spend millions of dollars a year on the platform have also distanced themselves. Some are also halting their advertising from Twitter and other social media sites, along with Facebook’s platforms."
Previously announced companies participating in the boycott are Birchbox, Eddie Bauer, Honda America, Levi Strauss & Company, Lululemon, The North Face, Patagonia, REI, Starbucks and Verizon.
Bloomberg writes that "no single company can significantly dent growth at Facebook, which generated $17.7 billion in revenue last quarter alone. But a rising tally adds to pressure on other brands to follow suit, and when combined with a pandemic-fueled economic slowdown, the threat to Facebook deepens."
The Bloomberg story says that Facebook founder-CEO Mark Zuckerberg "responded Friday to the growing criticism, saying that Facebook would label all voting-related posts with a link encouraging users to look at its new voter information hub. The social network also expanded its definition of prohibited hate speech for advertising."
Digital News Daily writes that "the policy changes announced by Facebook Inc. CEO Mark Zuckerberg … are limited, but could have significant political ramifications for the company - particularly given Zuckerberg’s refusal up to now to flag or remove even false and inflammatory content and political ads, including those from President Donald Trump and extremist groups.
"The changes include what amounts to a partial reversal of the company’s stance not to remove posts deemed 'newsworthy' even if they would normally violate its policies against organized hate movements and inciting violence."
- KC's View:
One of the most laughable comments I saw from Facebook was the one in which it claimed that whatever changes it makes will not be based on sales: “We set our policies based on principles rather than business interests," it said.
That's almost as credible as the claim that "we have a zero tolerance approach to hate speech," which is what Facebook vice president Nick Clegg told CNN over the weekend.
Sorry. Not buying it. And I have to wonder if there will be food retailers who will join the boycott, whether overtly or covertly.