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Facebook advertising boycott campaign preparing to expand to major companies in Europe

Monday, June 29th 2020 - 10:28 UTC
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Since the campaign launched earlier this month, more than 160 companies, including Verizon Communications and Unilever, have signed on to stop buying ads Since the campaign launched earlier this month, more than 160 companies, including Verizon Communications and Unilever, have signed on to stop buying ads

Organizers of a Facebook advertising boycott campaign that has drawn support from a rapidly expanding list of major companies are now preparing to take the battle global to increase pressure on the social media company to remove hate speech. The new chapter comes when PepsiCo had decided to stop advertising on Facebook Inc, according to Fox Business News.

The “Stop Hate for Profit” campaign will begin calling on major companies in Europe to join the boycott, Jim Steyer, chief executive of Common Sense Media, said in an interview on Saturday.

Since the campaign launched earlier this month, more than 160 companies, including Verizon Communications and Unilever, have signed on to stop buying ads on the world’s largest social media platform for the month of July.

Free Press and Common Sense, along with United States civil rights groups Color of Change and the Anti-Defamation League, launched the campaign following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man killed by Minneapolis police.

“The next frontier is global pressure,” Steyer said, adding the campaign hopes to embolden regulators in Europe to take a harder stance on Facebook. The European Commission in June announced new guidelines for tech companies including Facebook to submit monthly reports on how they are handling coronavirus misinformation.

The global campaign will proceed as organisers continue to urge more US companies to participate. Jessica Gonzalez, co-chief executive of Free Press, said she has contacted major US telecommunications and media companies to ask them to join the campaign.

Responding to demands for more action, Facebook on Sunday acknowledged it has more work to do and is teaming up with civil rights groups and experts to develop more tools to fight hate speech. Facebook said its investments in artificial intelligence have allowed it to find 90 per cent of hate speech before users report it.

Expanding the campaign outside the US will take a bigger slice off of Facebook’s advertising revenue but is not likely have major financial impact. Annually, Facebook generates US$70 billion in advertising sales and about a quarter of it comes from big companies such as Unilever with the vast majority of its revenue derived from small businesses.

Stop Hate for Profit has outlined a set of demands, which include a separate moderation process to help users who are targeted by race and other identifiers, more transparency on how many incidents of hate speech are reported and to stop generating ad revenue from harmful content.

The boycott has accelerated to include other digital advertising platforms such as Twitter. Starbucks said Sunday it would pause advertising on all social media platforms while it works with civil rights organizations to “stop the spread of hate speech”.

PepsiCo Inc will stop advertising on Facebook Inc, Fox Business News reported on Sunday (Jun 28), citing sources.

The halt on advertising will run through July and August, the report said. Sources described the move as a “global boycott” on placing Facebook ads, the report said.

The food and beverage company joins a growing number of companies pulling ad dollars from Facebook, including ice-cream maker Ben & Jerry's and Unilever PLC.

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