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July 1, 2020updated 30 Sep 2022 9:27am

Facebook ad boycott: More than 400 brands sign up to Stop Hate For Profit as survey suggests firms are losing interest in social media

By William Turvill

Organisers behind the Stop Hate For Profit campaign claim that more than 400 brands have now pledged to not run ads on Facebook this month.

Adidas, Ben & Jerry’s, Coca-Cola, Fcuk, Ford, Honda, HP, Microsoft, Pepsi, Starbucks and Volkswagen are among the companies to have backed the movement, cranking up pressure on Facebook to address hateful content on its platforms.

In the US, the number of brands backing the campaign has been increasing by the minute.

Last week, in the early stages of the campaign when it mainly had the support of a series of upmarket retail brands, analysts and social media experts were sceptical that it could seriously affect Facebook’s finances.

But Stop Hate For Profit has been growing in momentum and the campaign appears to have hit Facebook’s share price, which fell 8% on Friday before making back some ground earlier this week.

Paul Barrett, deputy director of the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights, told CNBC yesterday that although the campaign has already led to Facebook reviewing its policies, it could be even more significant if the boycott extends beyond the near term.

He said: “If it turns out to be a one-month or even six-month affair, that’s not going to bring Facebook to heel necessarily. If it turns out to be something more substantial, then Mark Zuckerberg will feel it in his pocketbook and conceivably make even more significant changes.”

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A Financial Times report yesterday also highlighted the findings of a previously undisclosed survey of World Federation of Advertisers members, which found falling interest in social media marketing.

The poll of 58 WFA member, which are responsible for $90bn of ad spending, found that almost a third will suspend spending on social media or are likely to do so, the FT reported.

Facebook is coming under attack on several fronts currently. In addition to criticism over its tolerance for controversial posts, the social media giant – which also owns Instagram and Whatsapp – has also faced condemnation for its failure to tackle Covid-19 misinformation.

The under-pressure firm, led by chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, yesterday launched a new ad campaign to help users identify false news.

Also yesterday, the company announced plans to begin prioritising “original reporting and stories with transparent authorship” in its newsfeed.

Facebook said it would also begin demoting “news content that does not have transparent information about the publisher’s editorial staff”, adding: “We’ve found that publishers who do not include this information often lack credibility to readers and produce content with clickbait or ad farms, all content people tell us they don’t want to see on Facebook.”

Facebook ad boycott full list of brands

See the full list of advertisers that have backed the Facebook ad boycott here.

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