Growing concerns over the rampant spread of false information and hate speech on Facebook has started the #StopHateForProfit campaign prompting hundreds of advertisers to stop spending on the platform resulting in $56 billion loss of market value in a single day.
Crux of the Matter
After the death of George Floyd and subsequent anti-racism protests, a coalition of civil rights groups namely Color of Change, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Sleeping Giants, Free Press, Anti-Defamation League, and Common Sense Media accused Facebook of not taking efforts to control the spread of racist content online.
The coalition urged businesses to pull their ads from Facebook and Instagram and this movement is now widely known as the ‘Stop Hate For Profit’ campaign. This campaign is now not limited only to the US but also is spreading globally as nearly 160+ companies have decided to not advertise on Facebook for the next 30 days.
99% of Facebook’s revenue is generated from its 8 million advertisers. Though many of them are small companies, there are several big corporations like Unilever Group & Verizon, which alone spends nearly $42 million & $2 million respectively yearly on Facebook ads, that have halted advertising. Some also have stopped ad-spends on Twitter and other social media sites.
Some major brands who have paused advertising on Facebook include CocaCola, PepsiCo, The North Face, Starbucks, Unilever Group, Honda Motor Co, Ben & Jerry’s, Magnolia Pictures, The Hershey Company, REI, and Verizon.
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.John Nitti, Chief Media Officer Verizon
After the announcement by giants like Unilever and Verizon, the shares of Facebook dropped by 8.3% along with Mark Zuckerberg losing $7.2 billion of his net worth. Even in the past Facebook has faced backlashes over its handling of user data but its revenue was never seriously impacted by any of the protests. Facebook has lost nearly $56 billion in revenues.
The advertisers are unhappy with Facebook’s laissez-faire attitude towards posts from US President Trump. The organisers of the 2020 US presidential election fear that a highly polarised audience on social media could increase the potential for spreading misinformation and discriminatory content.
Unilever in India has dropped the word ‘fair’ from its popular skin-lightening product called Fair and Lovely. The outrage over the death of Floyd has led to an unprecedented reaction from corporations around the world.
Response by Facebook
Facebook conducted a conference call with over 200 of its advertisers and informed that they were working towards addressing the ‘trust deficit‘. The founder Mark Zuckerberg announced changes in content moderation policy via a live stream.
Facebook will now necessarily not take down posts that may violate its policies, but will instead begin to label them. The posts that ‘may lead to violence or deprive people of their right to vote ‘will be taken down regardless of who has shared it or whether it is newsworthy. It will also label political speech that violates its rules and take measures to prevent voter suppression and protect minorities from abuse.
I am committed to making sure Facebook remains a place where people can use their voice to discuss important issues. But I also stand against hate or anything that incites violence or suppresses voting, and we’re committed to removing that content, no matter where it comes from.Mark Zuckerberg, Founder Facebook
- Facebook’s main color is blue because Zuckerberg has red-green color blindness. In an interview, he said that “blue is the richest color for me — I can see all of blue.”
- In finance, FAANG is an acronym that refers to the stocks of five prominent American technology companies: Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Alphabet (Google). The term was coined by Jim Cramer, the television host of CNBC’s Mad Money.
- Facebook users in the U.S. will have the option to “turn off” all political advertising on the platform. The new feature will give users more control over what they see — at least for users who decide to flip the new setting to “off.”