Growing number of US companies are boycotting Facebook

Stop Hate for Profit campaign has attracted big names such as Patagonia and Ben & Jerry’s in halting ads on platform

ANKARA, TURKEY - SEPTEMBER 04: Icons of WhatsApp Messenger messaging and voice over IP service, Instagram social networking service, Social network company Facebook, YouTube video sharing company, Snapchat multimedia messaging app, Twitter news and social networking service, Swarm mobile app, Facebook Messenger messaging platform and Gmail email service applications are seen on a screen of smart phone in Ankara, Turkey on September 04, 2018. 
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A growing list of companies have suspended advertising on Facebook to pressure the social media platform to address the spread of hateful, racist and discriminatory content.

The campaign Stop Hate for Profit, launched this month by a coalition of anti-discrimination and civil rights organisations, has attracted a large number of US companies who have suspended their ads on Facebook for July.

The organisations include the Anti-Defamation League, the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, Sleeping Giants and Colour of Change

The campaign is in response to the police killing of George Floyd and criticism of Facebook’s handling of content in the aftermath.

It has so far gathered support from at least a dozen companies including Patagonia, Arc'teryx, REI, The North Face, Ben & Jerry's, Eddie Bauer, Dashlane, Mozilla, Local Postal, Magnolia Pictures, Upwork, Adafruit and Modern Farmer  magazine.

“From the monetisation 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,” Colour for Change said.

The group said that discussions had been continuing for five years with Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, to curb racist and discriminatory content on the platform, with no agreement reached.

Now the organisations are coming together to increase pressure on Mr Zuckerberg, by pulling the advertisements from Facebook and Instagram for at least next month.

The main demands include creating a way to counter harassment and removing ads that spread hate or misinformation.

Facebook generated $69.7bn (Dh256bn) in revenue from advertisements in 2019, but this margin is expected to significantly shrink in 2020.

Unlike Twitter, Mr Zuckerberg gave freedom of speech as the reason for keeping US President Donald Trump's controversial post: “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

The boycott is expected to grow. The Wall Street Journal reported this week that the digital ad agency 360i encouraged its more than 50 clients to join the campaign.

Movie star Sacha Baron Cohen and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton have tweeted in support of the campaign:

The ad agency, Goodby Silverstein, became the latest in major US companies to boycott Facebook for the month of July. According to CNBC, the “agency’s clients include the likes of BMW, HP, PayPal, Pepsi, Doritos, and Adobe.

“We are taking this action to protest the platform’s irresponsible propagation of hate speech, racism, and misleading voter information,” it said in a post on Twitter.

In a statement, Carolyn Everson, Facebook’s VP global business group, said the company respects these decisions and is in discussions with the groups advocating the boycott.

“We respect any brand’s decision, and remain focused on the important work of removing hate speech and providing critical voting information. Our conversations with marketers and civil rights organizations are about how, together, we can be a force for good," she said.