Hit pause on hate. That’s the call-to-action issued on June 17, by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL. Their new Stop Hate for Profit campaign asks businesses to suspend advertising on Facebook’s services during July.
The campaign’s partners, including Color of Change, Common Sense, Free Press, and Sleeping Giants, assert that the social-media platform has enabled “the incitement of violence against protesters fighting for racial justice” and has repeatedly turned a blind eye to issues that threaten American democracy.
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THIS IS NOT A PAID POST. We will pause all paid advertising on Facebook and Instagram in the US in support of the #StopHateForProfit campaign. Facebook, Inc. must take the clear and unequivocal actions to stop its platform from being used to spread and amplify racism and hate. While we will continue to have a presence here, we will pause all paid advertising on the platform. Full statement at link in bio.
North Face was the first to agree. Since then, Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s Unilever, Verizon, Coca-Cola, Eddi Bauer, Aspen Snowmass, Mozilla, Honda, REI, The Hershey Co., PLAZM, Modern Farmer, and many others have joined the boycott and are not going to spend their ad dollars with Facebook in July, possibly longer.
“We have strict content policies in place and have zero-tolerance when they are breached, we take action,” Verizon’s chief media officer John Nitti told CNBC in a statement. “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.”
Verizon is one of the largest advertisers on the Facebook platform.
More Virtue Signaling, Or Something Better?
Being on the right side of an issue in public is a simple PR tactic. Doing something about the unconscious actions you or your firm take is another matter entirely.
Given that Facebook’s revenue won’t be hurt too badly by this mostly symbolic 30-day boycott, it’s fair to ask what does it all mean? Will this bad PR help to move FB off its staunch rightwing policies? Or is this just a temporary cover-your-ass move from brands, especially the brands with no real record of going to bat for social issues?
Outside Magazine points out that Grace Anderson, director of operations and strategic partnerships at the advocacy organization PGM ONE, wrote a piece on Medium listing seven “starting points” for those in the industry serious about racial equity, including divesting from companies that “create harmful/unsafe environments for Black folks.” The story was widely circulated in the outdoor community.
She wrote: “We don’t need saviors. We don’t want your gear. We want action.”
p.s. Don’t Forget Insta
Shoshana Wodinsky of Gizmodo is not impressed in the least. She, like many people inside and outside media, are tired of the faux concern and easy answers instead of realistic solutions.
…none of the brands that have taken center stage in the current campaign confirmed to Gizmodo that they were actually pulling 100% of the bucks we all assumed that they were. Rather, it seems like many of them are leaving the door open to funnel that money into Facebook properties that are lesser-known, or based overseas.
As it turns out, the movement to “defund Facebook” can mean different things to different people. For some, it might mean pulling their ad dollars from the feeds of Facebook proper, while continuing to funnel that money into its sister company, Instagram, which pulled in a solid $20 billion in ad revenue in 2019 alone.
There’s no talk of these brands deleting their Facebook pages. There’s no talk of how to move an audience from Facebook to someplace better and safer.
I think many people, including people who use Facebook for work, would like to see FB reform itself, so they can keep using it.
It’s the equivalent of thinking the ad industry will reform itself. It’s utter fantasy and not in a dreamy way.