At Media Kitchen, we believe spreading hateful misinformation is wrong and an offense that should be punishable as a crime. Facebook has a responsibility to stop the spread of propaganda, misinformation and harmful content on its platform. We’re watching society crumble before our eyes because of hate, while much that hate has spread and continues to spread on Facebook.
But we would be hypocritical if we told our clients to stop advertising on Facebook, even for just a month. We recommend Facebook to all our clients for just about every single media campaign. In fact, Facebook is one of our top five media partners ranked by billings. We spend a lot of money with Facebook. If we refused to buy media on Facebook we wouldn’t have clients; clients would go elsewhere.
Back in October of 2019 we applauded Twitter for not accepting political advertising. In fact we said it showed leadership and wished Facebook would do the same. But they didn’t. So why can’t we tell clients to stop spending on the platform?
The reason it’s so hard for clients to walk away from Facebook is because it works. In a world with two or three dominant media channels, it’s a harmful business decision to be the first brand to walk away. Also, while there is a lot of harmful content on Facebook, there is a lot of good content that works for our clients.
However, we talk to clients a lot about brand safety. I’ll make an extreme example. We know that if the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) tried to convince us to buy ads in their newsletter, we’d have no problem telling our clients not to advertise. In fact, if our clients told us to advertise in the KKK’s newsletter we’d easily resign. But there’s more hateful content on Facebook and we have no problem recommending the platform time and time again.
Why is that? Is it because the hateful content is not as overt as the KKK’s newsletter? Is it easier to hide behind the good content on Facebook? Or is it because Facebook drives sales? It’s probably all of those things.
What continues to make the decision to pull off of Facebook so complicated is that Facebook is treated more like a country in a larger geopolitical landscape than a media channel or platform. It’s more complicated than whether or not to advertise in the KKK’s newsletter. In the business of international trade, for example, we often accept the fact that we have to deal with a military ally who also has human rights violations. That kind of hypocrisy is accepted by most people; we somehow justify it because a military ally helps the common good. But if we keep tolerating military aggressors, we will wind up with the Third Reich.
Facebook allows for the spread of misinformation and hateful speech. That’s wrong. But instead of removing all our troops, demilitarizing, and thereby enabling even more human rights violations, we are recommending our clients pullback gradually – pullback as much as they can and use that pullback to invest in other good performing sites and create testing strategies, moving towards ultimately replacing Facebook.
As long as Facebook allows for misinformation and harmful content, our long-term intention should be to remove them from our plans.