The #StopHateForProfit boycott organized by civil rights groups against Facebook advertising may not serve to make a dent in the tech giant’s massive revenue, at least in the short term — as various analysts continue to point out.
But it’s clearly worrying CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his senior executives, who are now reaching out to major ad industry players to try to calm their growing concerns about supporting a platform that has become associated with spreading racist, violence-inciting hate messaging from President Donald Trump and right-wing extremists.
Zuckerberg, along with COO Sheryl Sandberg, this week talked with members of Facebook’s client council, including executives from companies such as Unilever, Anheuser-Busch, Nestle, Dentsu and Omnicom Media Group, reports Business Insider, citing unnamed knowledgeable sources.
The Facebook leaders told the group that they are reviewing their policies and decision-making practices about content and ads, including political advertising.
In addition, on a call with about 200 advertisers on Tuesday, Neil Potts, Facebook’s head of trust and safety, was asked why companies should risk their brands’ reputations by staying on the platform, CNN Business reported Wednesday evening, also based on unnamed sources familiar with the matter.
Potts acknowledged that “there is a trust deficit” during the call, which was set up by the Interactive Advertising Bureau of Canada, adding: "You try to make a decision and people disagree and maybe that builds that deficit even deeper."
His comments were first reported by the Financial Times.
Asked about the call, a Facebook spokesman, Andy Stone, told CNN Business: "It's normal for us to have conversations with advertisers and discuss issues, including policy matters. This is something we do routinely and will keep doing."
Zuckerberg has become increasingly mired in controversy since he declared last October that Facebook’s platforms would take a hands-off policy toward political ads and posts, even if they include lies.
The pressure began to intensify when Twitter soon after announced it would not take political advertising. The controversy has heated up in recent weeks, since Twitter began to flag Trump’s most dangerous tweets — e.g., “When the looting starts, the shooting starts” — while Facebook did nothing.
In mid June, former Vice President and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has launched a “MoveFastFixIt” petition and social media campaign demanding that Facebook take aggressive steps to stop the spread of misinformation and disinformation around the upcoming elections.
On June 17, the NAACP, Anti-Defamation League and other civil rights groups announced their ad boycott. Advertisers that have publicly said they are boycotting Facebook include T-Mobile, Ben & Jerry’s, Eddie Bauer, Magnolia Pictures, Patagonia, The North Face, REI, and Upwork. Digital agency 360i, part of Dentsu Group, has also encouraged its clients — which include Oreo, JC Penney, Coca-Cola, Diageo and Bravo — to join the boycott.
The next day, Facebook removed several ads placed by Trump’s re-election campaign that featured Nazi symbols, citing the platform’s policy against organized hate.
In early June, Zuckerberg indicated, in a memo to increasingly restive employees, that Facebook would review its “policies allowing discussion and threats of state use of force to see if there are any amendments we should adopt.”
The company’s recent attempts to diffuse criticism have included moving to ban ads from state-controlled media outlets, and enabling Facebook users to opt out of viewing political ads, as well as launching efforts to encourage voting.
Fakebook has been correctly called a communications sewer by Joe Scarborough along similar descriptions from many other high profile commentators; described as "digital gangsters" in a formal UK Parliamentary Commitee report; and paid $millions, now likely $billions in fines for unrepentant data abuses, etc., etc. It will take too long for Congress to remove Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act which provides such digital social media, so called publishers, immunity. So what do the industry and consumers need to do to bring the "$85 billion man" to his knees?
As urged by Barry Lowenthal, CEO, Media Kitchen, in Media Post Advertisers and their agencies should immediately stop using Fakebook without, I suggest, any gradual withdrawal; consumers should completely remove their subscriptions; and we should all stop using any Fakebook products or services. Consumers should also boycott advertisers using Fakebook! Kudos to those advertisers that have already stopped using Fakebook. It will not hurt your media plans a bit. As experienced media experts know and understand, there are many better media platforms and vehicles that can deliver superior metrics to your brand targets in far superior AND safer environments for greater impact than Fakebook!
How much longer are we going to allow this massive juggernaught to help facilitate the destruction of our democracy, fundamental common decency and basic ethics? Fakebook and its peer social internet services ARE publishers and shoud be held to the same publishing standards. Period.
Praise indeed. Delighted that you will be deleting your Fakebook account? It is still on your Media Post Member page! Have never been on Fakebook as quite frankly I feared many of the now proven dangers from the outset. (LinkedIn has worked very well for me notably for business contacts and identifying opportunites.)
Apparently Fakebook makes deletion really difficult so special diligence and research needed plus maybe shoes for the sewer rather than Bare Feet??
Hi Tony, My MediaPost account was created in 2011 and I haven't visited it since. I just updated it, so thank you for pointing that out.
FTR, I deleted my FB over 2 years ago. I consider deletion a luxury, though, as the way the monolith has been built, it is essential for many businesses. Your slamming of me when I supported your comment is so very trollish; you would find plenty of company on FB if you decide to join it.
Roxanne: Huge apologies. Not meant in any way as a slam but as an FYI. Perhaps my British background and sense of humour. Like you hate the internet trolls. The sewer reference was strictly to Fakebook and difficuly of navigating out of it with, or without, shoes! Marvellous that you deleted your FB over 2 years. Well played. I was never ever on Fakebook nor will be, ever.
Forgive me. Cheers
Oh my! Thank you, Tony. I share your negativity about FB. And I generally love British humour! We are good to go now.
Tony, I think you are misquoting Barry's MediaPost article. Here it is:
Correct Ken. It appears I put the cart before the horse with due apologies. Barry did indeed state, "we are recommending our clients pullback gradually" and "our long term intention should be to remove them (FB) from our plans" and not, as suggested, to immediately stop using FB.
However, having worked with some outstanding planners in my career, removal of FB from a media plan would, as suggested, not be that difficult and would not hurt that plan one bit. The alternative media investments recommended within the overall plan would most likely improve it on many key performance dimensions! So is this not an opportunity for Media Kitchen to lead the way in media planning innovations without FB?
Barry also opined that, "clients would go elsewhere" if Media Kitchen refused to include FB.
If that is really true, does Media Kitchen really want to have clients that are willing to support a completely irresponsible communications sewer run by "digital gangsters" and as importantly take the potential brutal risks FB's use opens up to brands even with the utmost diligence on adjacencies, etc.? The overall FB environment is now toxic. Based on Verizon - just announced - and the other major advertisers mentioned in this article that are boycotting FB, immediately ceasing FB's use could be the best new business pitch for Media Kitchen yet?
Barry: I am not sure you can have your cake and eat it too, it as we Brits say. Respectfully I suggest it would not be "hypocritical" if you told your clients to stop advertsing on FB or at the very least recommended they significantly reduce their reliance on Fakebook much faster than "gradually" or "long term".