Should retailers boycott Facebook?
REI and The North Face on Friday became the first prominent firms to agree to stop buying Facebook ads because of how the platform polices hate speech and misinformation.
Last Wednesday, #StopHateForProfit, a coalition supported by the NAACP and the Anti-Defamation League, began calling for advertisers to suspend their marketing on Facebook in the month of July due to such concerns. The campaign comes amid rising scrutiny of Facebook’s largely hands-off approach to political speech.
“We have long seen how Facebook has allowed some of the worst elements of society into our homes and our lives,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, in a statement.
REI tweeted, “For 82 years, we have put people over profits. We’re pulling all Facebook/Instagram advertising for the month of July.”
The North Face said in a statement, “The North Face is halting all U.S. paid advertising with Facebook until stricter policies are put in place to stop racist, violent or hateful content and misinformation from circulating on the platform. We know that for too long harmful, racist rhetoric and misinformation has made the world unequal and unsafe.”
Last Wednesday, digital-advertising firm 360i urged clients in an email to stop purchasing ads on Facebook, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Over the past few weeks, Facebook has come under criticism for how it has handled posts from President Donald Trump. Amid the protests over racial injustice, Mr. Trump described protestors on Facebook as “thugs” while suggesting, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
Facebook’s inaction stood out after Twitter flagged the same message in a tweet for “glorifying violence.”
Facebook has argued that increasingly moderating content infringes on free speech while asserting that AI faces challenges understanding the cultural context of words in detecting hate speech.
On Friday, Facebook said it is talking to both advertisers and civil rights organizations to become “a force for good to fight racial injustice around the world,” the Journal reports.
In 2017, YouTube saw several brands pull their advertising after finding their ads running alongside extremist and racist content on the site.
- The North Face becomes first major brand to join Facebook ad boycott – Advertising Age
- Ad Agency Encourages Clients to Join Facebook Ad Boycott – The Wall Street Journal
- North Face, REI join Facebook ad boycott organized by civil rights groups – CNET
- Can Advertisers Break The Facebook Chain Of Hate? – Forbes
- Facebook ad boycott calls grow louder – Axios
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What should guide decisions on whether retailers and brands pull advertising from a social media platform due to content? Do you think that Facebook crosses the line?