Facebook: Coca-Cola stops ads in July

Around 90 companies do not advertise on Facebook as part of the # StopHateForProfit campaign in July. As a result, the US Group’s share fell eight percent on Saturday.

Last week, clothing manufacturers The North Face and Patagonia announced that they would stop all Facebook ads in July. The reason: The #StopHateForProfit initiative, launched by the Anti-Defamation League, of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) and the organization The Color Of Change was launched. Now other groups joined the campaign – including the beverage producer Coca-Cola, consumer goods manufacturer Unilever and the car group Honda – and thus caused Facebook serious financial damage. Around 90 companies will not advertise on the social media platform in July. Some of them are considering expanding the boycott to Facebook’s subsidiary Instagram. As a result of the # StopHateForProfit campaign, the share of the social network fell by eight percent on Saturday. That means a loss of as much as $ 7 billion for the company.

The #StopHateForProfit campaign calls for Facebook Ads to be stopped for the whole of July. This is intended to hit the social media company at a sensitive point. Because the majority of Facebook’s revenue comes from advertising revenue. The beverage giant Coca-Cola alone is said to have made ad spendings of around $ 22 million on Facebook in the United States in 2019. Unilever is said to have spent as much as $ 42 million last year on advertising on the social network.

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The social media giant is increasingly criticized for dealing with hate speech and racist and discriminatory content. For example, Facebook labeled the right-wing radical and racist Breitbart News, which also publicly deny the Holocaust, with the label “Trusted News Source”. Two posts by US President Donald Trump are also causing protests. The head of state uses the racist connotation “When the looting starts, the shooting starts”. While Twitter marked Trump’s content and later even deleted it, the posts can still be viewed on the President’s Facebook account.

Mark Zuckerberg decided to keep Trump’s post on the platform, screenshot Facebook

Mozilla, Ben & Jerry’s and Coca-Cola: Corporations are sending a clear signal against hate speech on Facebook

One of the first companies to announce participation in the # StopHateForProfit campaign was the Internet company Mozilla. The special thing about this: The group has no longer placed advertising on Facebook since 2018. Mozilla wanted to set an example against hate speech and the lax handling of user data. Mary Ellen Muckerman, Interim CMO, the company said in a statement:

We haven’t advertised on Facebook since 2018. We stopped then because we believed their response to the Cambridge Analytica scandal was insufficient, and that the policies and practices that led to the scandal demonstrated that Facebook was not taking adequate care to safeguard people’s personal data on their platform. As a result, we not only stopped our advertising spend, but we stopped using Facebook to promote Mozilla or Firefox. Like other companies now, we find what Facebook is doing in this moment to be problematic as well. Barring any significant changes in their actions, we have no plans to resume our advertising on Facebook.

The fact that Coca-Cola will suspend advertising donations for the next 30 days has far greater consequences for Facebook. Because the beverage manufacturer has been running campaigns worth millions on the platform for years. The company has now announced that it will completely do without advertising on social media in July. This means that in addition to Facebook, Instagram will also lose advertising revenue. James Quincey, Chairman and CEO of the Coca-Cola Group, wrote on the company’s website:

There is no place for racism in the world and there is no place for racism on social media. The Coca-Cola Company will pause paid advertising on all social media platforms globally for at least 30 days. We will take this time to reassess our advertising policies to determine whether revisions are needed. We also expect greater accountability and transparency from our social media partners.

First response to the boycott? Political content will be marked on Facebook in the future

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg responds to the protest and promises that handling hate speech and problematic content on the platform will improve in the future. As a first measure, Zuckerberg announces a new label feature for the platform. In a Facebook live video, the CEO said:

We’re going to start labeling content that we find newsworthy that might otherwise violate our policies. A handful of times a year, we make a decision to leave up content that would otherwise violate our policies because we consider that the public interest value outweighs the risk of that content.

In the clip, Zuckerberg explains that the social network for marking political content is based on a principle that appears to be very similar to that of Twitter. Facebook checks content posted by politicians and, if necessary, labels it. This is intended to indicate that the content may be misleading. Such a feature can be of great importance, especially in view of the upcoming US presidential election at the end of the year. Because not only political advertising campaigns are run on Facebook. Disinformation that can influence the choice is also disseminated via the platform.

#StopHateForProfit: Does the handling of hate speech change after the campaign?

It remains to be seen which companies will join the # StopHateForProfit campaign. However, the campaign shows that large companies, how and where they use their money for marketing measures, can have a significant impact on social media platforms. It is to be hoped that the initiative will change the way hate speech and offensive content on Facebook go beyond July.

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