Starbucks joins companies in pausing social media ads

Tuesday, 30 Jun, 2020

An advertising boycott against Facebook is gaining momentum, with global brands such as Starbucks and Diageo joining the growing throng of businesses pulling marketing dollars in order to put pressure on the social network to tackle hate speech.

Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Friday announced tweaks to a number of policies around hate speech and voter suppression but the measures have not helped halt the snowball of companies taking a stand to stop advertising from the platform in the U.S. amongst the backlash over the company's alleged failure to contain the rampant spread of false information and incendiary content on the platform.

The company said it would continue using social media to communicate with its clients and employees.

As of Friday, Facebook is expanding its ads policy to prohibit claims that people from a specific race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, caste, sexual orientation, gender identity or immigration status are a threat to the physical safety, health or survival of others, Zuckerberg said.

More than 160 companies, including Verizon Communications and Unilever Plc, signed on to stop buying ads on Facebook Inc, the world's largest social media platform.

Facebook (FB) has announced plans to label potentially harmful "newsworthy" posts in response to a widening advertising boycott.

Starbucks isn't committing as deeply as some of its peers.

Earlier in the weekend, FTSE 100 firm Diageo, the drinks maker behind Smirnoff vodka and Guinness, also joined a flood of advertisers warning they would suspend social media spending amid controversies over hate speech.

The report says the company began bending its policies in 2015, when then-candidate Trump posted a video saying he would ban Muslims from entering the US.

Diageo is estimated to have spent $22.9 million on Facebook in the US previous year. But Zuckerberg stood his ground, even as multiple Facebook employees resigned in protest and staged the company's first walkout, albeit a virtual one, to make their voices heard.

But Coca-Cola and Starbucks won't be joining next month's planned boycott driven by civil rights groups and the Anti-Defamation League.

Facebook, on the other hand refused to take down or add an addendum to Trump's.

Still, while Facebook has largely avoided explicit Twitter-style hounding of "wrong" political opinions so far, the social-media platform has been frequently accused of censorship.

The marketer's USA division on June 26 became the first automaker to publicly join the movement, stating that during July it would "withhold its advertising on Facebook and Instagram, choosing to stand with people united against hate and racism".

Zuckerberg said Facebook believes "there is a public interest in allowing a wider range of free expression in people's posts than in paid ads".

In a tweet on June 23, Canadian outdoor brand Arc'teryx announced it would stop advertising on Facebook and Instagram globally through "at least the end of July". Coca-Cola is another global giant to stop advertising for 30 days. This campaign has pressure on company which was targeted for spreading hate speech and misinformation. Sey acknowledged some of the recent steps Zuckerberg has taken, but "it's simply not enough", she said.