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Patagonia and Others Join Advertising Boycott Of Facebook

by Rudy Sanchez on 06/22/2020 | 3 Minute Read

As social and political fissures deepen in the US, with similar divisions seen around the world, attention to social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook and their role in the dissemination of content meant to sow hate and rancor towards targeted groups has grown. What you could once dismiss as the actions of an isolated group of users, it has become clear now those seeking to reinforce hateful ideas and propagate misinformation to further their own goals have found success on social media.

A new campaign aimed at impacting Facebook’s advertising revenue organized by civil rights groups such as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the NAACP calls for boycotts of the social medias platform until it makes substantive changes as to how it handles posts containing hate speech, racially-motivated conspiracy theories (such as Holocaust denial), Black voter suppression, and inadequately protecting users from online threats. According to a full-page ad in the LA Times by the coalition, 99% of Facebook’s revenue, some $70 billion, comes from paid advertising.

Dubbed “Stop Hate for Profit,” the campaign now has friends in high places. Rivals The North Face and Patagonia have joined the campaign, suspending their Facebook and Instagram advertising through at least July, along with retailer REI and freelance website Upwork. Influential digital advertising agency 360i is also advising clients to participate in the boycott, joining Elijah Harris, a senior vice president at IPG Mediabrands, in a call to rethink the relationship between brands and the social media platform, given Facebook’s lax attitude towards incendiary and hate-motived content.

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“I believe it is time to think differently as an industry and hold Facebook accountable for driving faster and more positive change. Facebook must rethink how to curb the spread of content that incites violence and leads to divisive discourse,” Harris wrote in a LinkedIn post.

In response, Carolyn Everson, VP Global Business Group Facebook, told CNN Business in a statement, “We deeply 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.”

The response follows earlier comments made by Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg on this personal Facebook page promising to review their policies with respect to content, saying “I believe our platforms can play a positive role in helping to heal the divisions in our society, and I'm committed to making sure our work pulls in this direction.”

Facebook has long stoked criticism that it is profiting from providing a platform for hate. The company banned white supremacy groups but left a loophole allowing white nationalists and separatists to exist on their site, removing the ambiguity only after months of discussions with civil rights organizations and calls for change from the public. More recently, the site decided not to remove President Trump’s post in which he used the phrase, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” though such calls for violence are against social media site’s content policy. Facebook last week did begin to start moderating the president’s controversial posts, joining Twitter and Snapchat’s in curtailing the propagation of Trump’s incendiary comments, falsehoods and hoaxes, and misinformation.