More advertisers flee Facebook as boycott over hate speech, misinformation grows

Published: Jul. 1, 2020 at 2:36 PM CDT
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More companies are joining the list of advertisers fleeing Facebook as the boycott against the social media giant grows.

Starting Wednesday, numerous household names from Hershey's to Denny's will officially pause advertising on the site.

The reason is an outcry against hate speech and misinformation on social media, including content from President Trump.

The world's largest social media company is now under unprecedented pressure from its advertisers to do more to stop hate speech online.

Facebook has come under fire for leaving up recent posts where President Trump appeared to threaten looters with shooting and spread false claims and misinformation about mail-in voting.

“As we watch Donald Trump, I think become more and more volatile with his posts, the fact that these companies have sat on their hands and allowed it means that they are complicit,” said Rashad Robinson, executive director of civil rights group Color of Change.

The group is one of several that have organized the "Stop Hate for Profit" boycott. He said the choice is simple for businesses.

"Do you want your ads showing up next to white nationalist organizations? Do you feel comfortable having your ads next to theirs while you're also putting on those same platforms messages about why black lives matter?" he asked.

Civil rights advocates are pushing Facebook to do more, including removing content and groups that promote hate and disinformation, allowing outside audits of its content and advertising policy, and giving advertisers refunds if their ads run alongside content that was removed because it violated the company's policies.

With more than 98% of all of Facebook's revenue coming from advertising, the pressure on Facebook's bottom line is only growing.

“We have absolutely no incentive to tolerate hate speech. We don’t like it. Our users don’t like it. Advertisers understandably don’t like it,” said Nick Clegg, Facebook’s Vice President of Global Affairs and Communications.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who has been criticized for appearing to be too close to President Trump and his campaign, said publicly that the company will put in place new policies to flag, label and even remove content that violates its rules, including from the president.

“If we determine the content may lead to violence or deprive people of their right to vote, we’re going to take that content down, no matter who says it. And similarly, there are no exceptions for politicians,” Zuckerberg said.

Activists say Facebook is acting out of fear, worried that President Trump will attempt to regulate social media companies he claims are targeting conservatives online.

The pressure on Facebook appears to be getting the company's attention. Zuckerberg has agreed to meet this week with the civil rights organizers behind the boycott.

The company characterized the meeting as part of its regular engagement with civil rights leaders and organizations.

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