Verizon has joined a growing list of companies pulling advertisements from Facebook. The boycott will span the month of July, in an effort to pressure the social media juggernaut to revise its hate speech policy.
Verizon Joins the Movement
Verizon now joins a growing alliance of companies boycotting Facebook and its subsidiary, Instagram. Recently, outdoor apparel brand Eddie Bauer pledged its commitment to the boycott, as did ice cream brand Ben & Jerry’s. Earlier this month, the founders of the Vermont-based creamery were arrested at a Black Lives Matter protest.
Also among the nearly 100 companies joining the boycott are North Face, Patagonia, Modzilla, REI, and Unilever.
A Cause to Fight Misinformation
The boycott is the result of the #StopHateForProfit campaign. Among the campaign’s organizers are civil rights groups like the NAACP, Color of Change, the Anti-Defamation League, Free Press, Sleeping Giants, and Commons Sense. The movement began just over a week ago.
The campaign is an effort, launched by the Anti-Defamation League, to censure misleading comments by President Trump. Trump has joined other far-right voices in spreading misleading information and hate speech on the world’s largest social network. But unlike Twitter, which has removed doctored videos and tagged certain misleading tweets propagated by President Trump, Facebook has hesitated to respond. Founder and Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg has faced criticism from both inside and outside his company by people who deem his inaction troubling.
Still, as the general election nears, misinformation on Facebook could present a threat. Fake news campaigns had a tangible effect on the 2016 election. Moreover, as the global pandemic, its ensuing financial crisis and national protests continue to dominate the news cycle, authentic, dependable information is critical. Facebook’s hesitance to remove misleading information is not a neutral position.
John Nitti, Verizon’s Chief Media Officer, said in a statement:
“We have strict content policies in place and have zero tolerance when they are breached, we take action…We’re pausing our advertising until Facebook can create an acceptable solution that makes us comfortable and is consistent with what we’ve done with YouTube and other partners.”
Carolyn Everson, Vice President of Facebook’s Global Business Group, said in her statement:
“We respect any brand’s decision, and remain focused on the important work of removing hate speech and providing critical voting information. Our conversations with marketers and civil rights organizations are about how, together, we can be a force for good.”
Accordingly, Facebook has announced some changes since Verizon’s announcement. The company is banning advertisements that could lead to any racial or religious division. The pressure is having an effect.