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The Facebook Ad Boycotts Have Entered the Big Leagues. Now What?

From Megan Graham at CNBC:

  • An advertiser boycott of Facebook is gaining steam, now counting Verizon and Unilever among its participants. Starbucks and spirits giant Diageo joined the campaign over the weekend.
  • Analysts say these advertisers have the potential to influence more companies to join the boycott.
  • The boycotts could prove promising for Facebook’s digital advertising competitors if advertisers try to meaningfully move spend away from the platform.
A steady stream of companies came out in support of the ”#StopHateForProfit” campaign, promising to pause advertising spend on Facebook to encourage the company to amp up efforts against hate speech and disinformation.

With major advertisers like Verizon joining the campaign Thursday and UnileverCoca-Cola and Honda saying they would pull advertising, Facebook is now facing a snowball effect of advertisers abandoning the site. Starbucks and spirits giant Diageo joined the campaign over the weekend.

But when it comes to Facebook’s 8 million advertisers, it may need to be a very big snowball.

Facebook has signaled it intends to do things on its own terms. In a more than 1,600-word memo to advertisers obtained by CNBC, the company’s VP of global business solutions, Carolyn Everson, said “boycotting in general is not the way for us to make progress together.”

“I also really hope by now you know that we do not make policy changes tied to revenue pressure,” Everson said in the memo. “We set our policies based on principles rather than business interests.”

Facebook’s stock closed down more than 8% Friday.

n the week since a group of organizations called on Facebook advertisers to pause their ad spend during the month of July, more than 100 marketers including Patagonia, REI, Lending Club and The North Face have announced their intention to join, according to a running list from Sleeping Giants. The organizations said they’re asking Facebook to more stringently police hate speech and disinformation by taking a number of actions, including creating a “separate moderation pipeline” for users who say they’ve been targeted because of their race or religion, or to let advertisers see how frequently their ads appeared near to content that was later removed for misinformation or hate, and allow them refunds for those advertisements.

Last year, Facebook brought in $69.7 billion in ad revenue globally through its millions of advertisers. And though some of them command much higher Facebook budgets than others, it would take a large group withholding spend to make much of a financial dent. But the financial dent isn’t the end goal, Sleeping Giants said in a tweet Friday: ”…It’s about a broader reckoning around the platform’s lack of moderation of hate and disinformation. Advertisers don’t want to sponsor violent, bigoted content or lies.”

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