The Anti-Defamation League and the NAACP launched a #StopHateForProfit campaign calling for businesses to boycott Facebook Ads throughout July. The boycott protests Facebook’s silence and inaction towards Facebook Pages, Groups, and posts that promote violence and hate speech. ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt states that Facebook has made little progress to make the platform safer for all. For instance, Greenblatt cites how Facebook News labeled the far-right site, Breitbart News, as a “trusted” source. Furthermore, the lack of moderation of private groups has proliferated misinformation and hate speech.
Facebook’s approach has been more hands-off in comparison to Twitter. Twitter has added alerts to tweets that contain misinformation. These alerts are essentially hyperlinks added to the bottom of the offending tweets with the text “ Get more information about…”. Clicking on the alert leads to a page that clarifies and provides information about the topic from multiple sources. They have also added content warnings on tweets that haven’t violated the rules but can be upsetting for certain groups, or have violated the rules but may be in the public’s interest to remain accessible. The user has to click the view button in order to see the tweet.
Is this permanent and include using the platform all together?
The campaign is a 30-day pause on advertising for Facebook. Facebook Ads makes up to ninety-nine percent of the company’s $70 billion revenue. The groups “want to work with Facebook to help the company address these longstanding problems” and ensure action by choosing not to buy advertising space on the platform. Essentially, it is a large scale vote-with-your-wallet campaign by brands. Facebook is a publicly traded company. This means that shareholders have invested their money into the company. A loss of revenue means shareholders lose money. Facebook has a duty to run in the best interest of their shareholders and the falling revenue will also spur shareholders to take an active role in making changes.
While #StopHateForProfit was targeted specifically at Facebook, the boycott has had effects on Instagram and Whatsapp, both owned by Facebook, and other social media sites like Twitter. Coca-Cola and Starbucks have paused their Twitter account. Mars Inc., manufacturer of Snickers and M&Ms, have paused on Instagram (owned by Facebook) and Snapchat as well.
The Goal of the Campaign
The campaign breaks down the next steps for Facebook under three tenets:
- Establish and empower permanent civil rights infrastructure, including installation of C-suite level executives with relevant expertise to evaluate product and policies. Considers the impact on all communities and potential for radicalization and hate.
- Regular third party independent audits.
- Audits and Refunds for advertisers whose ads were run along content that violated the terms of service.
- Find and remove public and private groups focused on the following:
- White supremacy, militia, antisemitism, violent conspiracies, Holocaust denialism, vaccine misinformation, and climate denialism.
- Common sense changes to TOS to reduce radicalization and hate on the platform.
- Stop recommending/amplifying groups from point 2A.
- Internal mechanism to auto flag hateful content in private groups for human review.
- Find and remove public and private groups focused on the following:
- Have expert teams to review submissions of identity based hate and harassment.
- Allow for individual victims to connect with a live Facebook employee.
The Current Situation
On Friday, Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook will now put warnings, similar to Twitter alerts, on posts that have hate speech and posts that break the community guidelines on Facebook. The company has also stated that it doesn’t allow hate speech on its platform, but acknowledged it could do more to tackle this problem. They have reportedly removed 10 million posts that violated its anti-hate speech rules and a majority were before they were reported.
Advertisers have said that Facebook has reached out to them to end their ad boycott with the promise of changes to address the concerns of profits linked to hate and outrage. Mark Zuckerberg plans to sit down with the #StopHateForProfit leaders on Tuesday to discuss the demands.
Notable mentions include Coca-Cola, Mozilla, Levi’s, Unilever, Invision, Target, and Microsoft.
The campaign is notable because of how many large brands have joined the boycott. For larger brands, advertising has been hit hard by COVID-19 already. Closed movie theaters, stores, and air travel has led to a lack of product to promote. The unemployment rate for the U.S. was reported to be 13.3% in May.
Companies that have set their advertising budgets before the pandemic are now having to rethink their spending and their messaging, potentially causing impacts on the return on investment of their advertising dollars. Brands that already have a large and positive brand awareness can see some benefit to their profit by reducing their ad campaigns while supporting a worthy cause.
For smaller brands, the choice to boycott Facebook and other social media ad sites can be daunting. These brands have already been hurt by reduced business and the cost associated with the transition to social distancing compliant practices.
Joy Howard, Dashlane’s Chief Marketing Officer, wrote in her blog post how difficult it is for smaller companies like start-ups to walk away from social media ads. These companies do not have passive marketing like a brick and mortar storefront because they can not afford one yet. Smaller Brands predominantly gain customers and traffic through running social media ads. They have to work hard to cultivate followers. Larger brands have the advantage passively advertising. This can be having long standing brand awareness, for example, Coca-Cola. Or a
How is Colibri Responding?
All of us at Colibri agree fully with the spirit of this boycott. We support the brands and groups participating #StopProfitForHate. At the same time, Colibri Digital Marketing is a small business that serves other small B-Corp businesses. Being able to afford to boycott can be a luxury for very small businesses, unlike larger brands that can ride out large losses. This situation can be equated to those who have to continue going to work during the pandemic to support themselves and their clients, but wish they could stay home. This why Colibri Digital Marketing chooses to take the following actions to support the boycott:
-Discuss with clients
We want to help our clients make an informed decision on what actions to take.
– Post about issues
We want to keep the discussion going and help share valuable information.
We are committed to posting a multitude of different perspectives with a focus on uplifting Black/POC/Minority voices.
-Support shareholder activism
As a certified B-Corp, we strongly support shareholder activism. Because relationships are so important to us, we want to stay in conversation with our clients, all of whom are smaller businesses. It’s difficult to believe in a cause and not feel financially empowered to take strong action. We see a tie-in here with activists everywhere and we salute their willingness to make sacrifices that ultimately benefits everyone.
What can individuals and smaller brands do if they can’t afford to actively join the movement?
Put out a statement supporting the movement and explain why the brand can’t join the movement. This could be a small paragraph to add to the text of all your posts. On Facebook, you can pin the post so that it will stay at the top of the page.
You can create a graphic to support the movement and the groups involved.
If a month long boycott isn’t financially feasible, you can tailor the length of your boycott. Instead of a month, you can choose to boycott for a week or 15 days. Decide on what a realistic timeframe looks like for you and your budget.
The Anti-Defamation League and the NAACP started #StopHateForProfit to call out Facebook for their relative inaction toward misinformation and hate speech. Since Facebook gains 99% of their revenue from ads, advertisers and brands have chosen to not run Facebook ads in July to persuade the social media giant to make changes to its structure and policies.
Although large brands like Unilever and Invision have the financial capacity to join the boycott, small businesses (including us at Colibri) consider this type of activism a luxury. Since a 30-day boycott may significantly impact the livelihood of a small- business, brands can show their support in other ways. Instead of a 30-day boycott, brands can put out statements in support of the boycott, spread information to amplify the voices of the movement, run shorter boycotts, and support the brands that have joined in the ways that they can.
Colibri Digital Marketing’s Response
- We are in 100% agreement with the spirit of this activism and we recognize that activism that has financial implications can be a luxury for very small businesses. We have we choose to take a stand in the following ways:
- Have open discussions with #TeamColibri
- Educate our clients about the issue and help them make a decision about boycotting that aligns with their values
- Publish this post
- Host an IG Live with InVision, a company that is boycotting, to amplify the issue
Tune in to our IGLive on July 21st at 9:00 am PT and meet Brian Kardon, CMO of Invision. Brain has been named to several new lists: “50 Most Influential CMOs on Social Media” (Forbes), “100 Most Influential Chief Marketing Officers in the World” (Richtopia), and the “30 Tech Marketing Leaders Changing the Industry” (Synthesio).
What are you waiting for? Mark your calendar and join our chat!