From Coca Cola to Unilever: why big companies are boycotting advertising on Facebook


campaign against hatred

The “Stop Hate for Profit” campaign has targeted Over the top, which now risk being overwhelmed, from Facebook to Youtube, from Instagram to Twitter

by Biagio Simonetta

Facebook torpedoes an anti-Trump employee

The “Stop Hate for Profit” campaign has targeted Over the top, which now risk being overwhelmed, from Facebook to Youtube, from Instagram to Twitter

5 ‘of reading

It’s called “Stop Hate for Profit” and it’s a campaign that risks upsetting the advertising world. Because it targets those who in technical jargon are called Ott, that is, Over the top: the main digital players that in recent years have catalyzed the most important slices of online advertising, from Facebook to Youtube, from Instagram to Twitter. Just Facebook, the company most involved in this affair, was affected by the stock market: shares decreased by 8.3% on Friday, and in Zuckerberg’s pocket accounts, the CEO became poorer than 7.2 billion dollars .

The origin of the campaign

Everything revolves around the racially motivated contents, or in any case praising the hatred, which are conveyed through these platforms. A chronic problem, exacerbated by the initial choice of Mark Zuckerberg not to remove or report some controversial posts by Donald Trump on the demonstrations following the death of George Floyd. Selected then somehow retracted, but with little construct. So much so that the boycott campaign that has exploded for a few weeks continues to become increasingly worrying. Especially for a company like Facebook that earns about 70 billion dollars a year from online advertisements. A story that vaguely recalls the boycott campaign that broke out after the case Cambridge Analytica. In that case, however, the flow immediately seemed less violent. Now, however, there is a domino effect to be observed with great attention.

It also adheres to Coca Cola

The latest to add to a list that is getting longer and more important is Coca Cola. “There is no room for racism in the world and there is no room for racism on social media” wrote the company’s CEO James Quincey in a note, asking social networks for greater reliability and more transparency, and announcing the one-month stop for advertisements on these platforms. But dozens of companies have decided to follow this path. Among the most important, besides Coca Cola, also giants of the caliber of Patagonia, The North Face, Unilever is Verizon. To understand the scope of this initiative, just think that Verizon – for example – invested 850 thousand dollars in advertising on Facebook in the first three weeks of June.

How the protest started

It all started in early June amid pressure from civil rights organizations like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Anti-Defamation League. Today, second Color of Change, one of the groups that support the boycott campaign, nearly 100 advertisers have joined this form of protest. Many of the participants are small businesses, which make up the majority of Facebook’s eight million advertisers. But as we have seen, over the days the number of large member companies has grown. Large companies that spend millions of dollars a year on social media, especially those of the galaxy of Facebook Inc. It must be said that Facebook spends billions of dollars a year to keep its platforms safe and works with external experts to review and update its policies. But evidently not enough.

Facebook’s move

Meanwhile, Facebook has tried to take countermeasures, and has announced new labels for posts related to political elections (a topic that is very popular in the United States). “We invest billions of dollars every year – it is written in a note released by Menlo Park – to keep our community safe and we constantly work with external experts to review and update our policies. We underwent one civil rights audit and we have banned 250 white supremacy organizations from Facebook and Instagram. The investments we made in Artificial intelligence allow us to identify nearly 90% of the hate speeches we speak on before users report them to us, while a recent European Union report found that Facebook examined more hate speech reports in 24 hours than Twitter and YouTube. We know of still have a lot of work to do, and we will continue to work with civil rights groups, Garm and other experts to develop even more tools, technologies and policies to continue this struggle. “
Furthermore, in a long post signed by Zuckeberg, the new guidelines have been defined which also concern advertising. An extreme attempt to demonstrate how sensitive the Menlo Park company is to the issues raised by the “Stop Hate for Profit” campaign. At the moment, however, no changes of position have been seen after the exit of Zuckerberg. We will see in the next few hours.

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