As Facebook continues to receive criticism for its handling of hate speech, corporations and advertisers are pulling away as part of #StopHateForProfit, an activist campaign forcing the social network to counteract harmful content on its platform.
The initiative — created by a civil rights coalition that includes the Anti-Defamation League, the NAACP, Color of Change, and other nonprofits — believes Facebook failed to censor President Donald Trump when he warned protesters in Minneapolis, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
The group organizing the boycott has called on businesses to pause Facebook advertising for the month of July. Facebook earns over 98 percent of its revenue from ads, which brought in $70 billion in 2019 alone.
“Let’s send Facebook a powerful message: Your profits will never be worth promoting hate, bigotry, racism, antisemitism and violence,” the Anti-Defamation League wrote.
The campaign comes amid widespread racial justice protests across the U.S. The Anti-Defamation League claims 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. Could they protect and support Black users? Could they call out Holocaust denial as hate? Could they help get out the vote? They absolutely could. But they are actively choosing not to do so,” the organization wrote on #StopHateForProfit’s webpage.
“We deeply respect any brand’s decision, and remain focused on the important work of removing hate speech and providing critical voting information,” Carolyn Everson, Facebook’s vice president for global marketing, told NBC News. “Our conversations with marketers and civil rights organizations are about how, together, we can be a force for good.”
One estimate suggests that more than 530 companies will participate in the boycott. Here’s how some of these companies are addressing their connection to Facebook.
“In solidarity with #StopHateForProfit, Volkswagen Group of America is suspending central advertising on Facebook and Instagram for the month of July while we assess their fit as relevant platforms for our brand communications,” a company spokesperson told NBC News.
“VW firmly believes in the right to free speech for all. But hate and dangerous online misinformation should not go unchecked. We expect our advertising partners to reflect our values, and Volkswagen – as well as other companies – must hold them to the same standards we demand of ourselves.”
Adidas and Reebok
“Racist, discriminatory, and hateful online content have no place in our brand or in society,” the company said in a statement. “As we focus on better practices within our company and communities to ensure lasting change in the fight against racism, Adidas and Reebok will also pause advertising on Facebook and Instagram globally throughout July.”
The company added that it would be developing “criteria to hold ourselves and every one of our partners accountable for creating and maintaining safe environments.”
Levi Strauss & Co.
“We at Levi Strauss & Co. have a responsibility to speak up and take action when we see major issues arise that impact our employees, fans and community at large,” Jen Sey, Levi’s chief marketing officer, wrote in a statement.
“That’s why we are joining the #StopHateForProfit campaign, pausing all paid Facebook and Instagram advertising globally and across all our brands to ‘hit pause on hate.’ We will suspend advertising at least through the end of July. When we re-engage will depend on Facebook’s response,” the statement continued.
Chipotle Mexican Grill
The fast casual restaurant chain has temporarily paused ads on Facebook and Instagram, saying “Chipotle is committed to our brand purpose of cultivating a better world.”
“We are temporarily pausing paid advertising on Facebook and Instagram starting July 1 while we work together to better understand the changes they are making,” said Chris Brandt, the company’s chief marketing officer. “We will continue to be part of the solution to fight systemic racism and create inclusive communities.”
The health care giant said it would pause advertising on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for at least 30 days and said it will “use that time to define our strategy going forward, built around the simple principle that we won’t support any platform that isn’t taking meaningful steps to eliminate hate speech and misinformation.”
Starbucks announced that it plans to suspend advertising on “all social media platforms.”
“We believe in bringing communities together, both in person and online, and we stand against hate speech,” the coffee giant said in a statement. “We believe more must be done to create welcoming and inclusive online communities, and we believe both business leaders and policy makers need to come together to affect real change.”
Intercontinental Hotels Group
Intercontinental Hotels Group, whose brands include Crowne Plaza, Kimpton, and Holiday Inn, has joined other companies in what has become a global boycott on Facebook. The company did not provide specifics on how long they would suspend ads on the platform.
“We stand by our company values including broadmindedness and integrity, and believe there is no place for hate, intolerance and racism in the world or on social media,” the packaged food company, which owns brands such as Orville Redenbacher’s and Chef Boyardee, told NBC News.
“That’s why Conagra Brands is pausing all paid Facebook and Instagram advertising in the U.S. across our brand portfolio throughout the rest of the calendar year.”
Microsoft stopped advertising on Facebook in the U.S. in May and has now suspended its ad campaigns on the platform globally, according to a report from Axios.
“Based on concerns we had back in May we suspended all media spending on Facebook/Instagram in the U.S. and we’ve subsequently suspended all spending on Facebook/Instagram worldwide,” Microsoft chief marketing officer Chris Capossela wrote in an internal post to company employees.
Microsoft, which is Facebook’s third-largest advertiser, is mostly concerned about inappropriate content adjacent to its ads, Axios wrote.
“We are pausing all national social media advertising for the next 30 days to re-evaluate our presence on these platforms,” the auto giant said.
“The existence of content that includes hate speech, violence and racial injustice on social platforms needs to be eradicated. We are actively engaged with industry initiatives led by the Association of National Advertisers to drive more accountability, transparency and trusted measurement to clean up the digital and social media ecosystem.”
“The Clorox Company will stop advertising spending with Facebook, Inc. through December,” the company wrote in a statement on its website.
“As a people-centered company committed to our values, we feel compelled to take action against hate speech, which we believe will increase through the balance of the year. This creates an increasingly unhealthy environment for people and our purpose-driven brands.”
“For the month of July, American Honda will withhold its advertising on Facebook and Instagram, choosing to stand with people united against hate and racism,” the company told NBC News. “This is in alignment with our company’s values, which are grounded in human respect.”
Verizon announced last week that it would suspend advertising on Facebook.
“We’re pausing our advertising until Facebook can create an acceptable solution that makes us comfortable and is consistent with what we’ve done with YouTube and other partners,” John Nitti, chief media officer for Verizon, said.
The company spends approximately $1billion each year on advertising.
One of the largest advertisers in the world, Unilever announced last week it would pull its ads from Facebook in support for the #StopHateForProfit campaign.
“Continuing to advertise on these platforms at this time would not add value to people and society,” the company said. “We will be monitoring ongoing and will revisit our current position if necessary.”
Ben & Jerry’s
“As of July 1, we will pause all paid advertising on Facebook and Instagram in the United States as part of the #StopHateForProfit campaign,” the company told NBC. “We call on Facebook, Inc. to take the clear and unequivocal actions called for by the campaign to stop its platform from being used to spread and amplify racism and hate.”
The beverage giant said it will stop running ads on social media platforms for the next 30 days, as it reevaluates where it spends its advertising budget.
“There is no place for racism in the world, and there is no place for racism on social media,” CEO and chairman of the company James Quincey told Adweek.
Other brands participating in the massive campaign include Patagonia, The North Face, and Best Buy. While the campaign exists for the month of July, some companies — including Conagra and Clorox — plan to suspend their advertising on Facebook for the remainder of the year.