Zuckerberg will meet with Facebook ad boycott organizers

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has agreed to meet with organizers of an ad boycott that have accused the social media giant of failing prevent hate speech and racism from being shared on its platform.

Advertisements for more than 400 brands including Coca-Cola, Starbucks and now Lego are due to disappear from Facebook on Wednesday, following the ‘Stop Hate for Profit’ campaign launched by a number of civil rights groups last month.

The groups enlisted the help of the multinational corporations to pressure Facebook into implementing new policies to help block hate speech in the wake of the death of George Floyd and amid a national reckoning over racism.

Facebook executives held at least two meetings with advertisers on Tuesday, the eve of the planned one-month boycott, in a last-ditch attempt persuade them to reconsider their course of action.

However, the talks broke down after the executives offered no new details on how they would tackle hate speech, three sources told Reuters. Instead, they pointed back to recent press releases, frustrating advertisers on the calls who believe those plans do not go far enough.

Now, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has agreed to meet with the organizers behind boycott, a spokeswoman said late Tuesday. 

Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has agreed to meet with organizers of an ad boycott aimed at the social media giant for its perceived failure to prevent hate speech and racism from being shared on its platform

On Wednesday, toymaker Lego became the latest brand to pause its ad spending on social media, confirming it would be halting all online campaigns for at least 30 days

On Wednesday, toymaker Lego became the latest brand to pause its ad spending on social media, confirming it would be halting all online campaigns for at least 30 days

The group, which includes the NAACP and the Anti-Defamation League, has previously outlined 10 demands for Facebook including ‘Find[ing] and remov[ing] public and private groups focused on white supremacy, militia, antisemitism, violent conspiracies, Holocaust denialism, vaccine misinformation, and climate denialism.’

The group has also called for allowing people who experience severe harassment to speak with a Facebook employee and called for the platform to issue refunds to brands whose ads show up next to offensive content that is later removed.

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg last week asked to meet with the campaign organizers along with Chief Product Officer Chris Cox, who returned to Facebook this month after resigning over the company’s direction last year.

The civil rights groups insisted Zuckerberg also be at the table, with Anti-Defamation League Chief Executive Jonathan Greenblatt noting that as CEO, chairman and the company’s largest shareholder, ‘he is the ultimate authority.’

The Facebook spokeswoman said late Tuesday that the company had confirmed that Zuckerberg would join the proposed meeting.

‘We’re waiting to hear back and look forward to the opportunity to continue the dialogue,’ she said.

Facebook said earlier this week it would submit to an audit of its hate speech controls, adding to plans to label newsworthy content that would otherwise violate its policies, following similar practices at other social media platforms such as Twitter Inc.

One digital ad agency representative who participated in a call on Tuesday said Facebook executives referred repeatedly to the audit, without offering additional concessions.

Coca-cola and Unilever announced a similar pause on Friday, when Facebook saw its shares drop $56 billion in valuation in response to the negative publicity

Coca-cola and Unilever announced a similar pause on Friday, when Facebook saw its shares drop $56 billion in valuation in response to the negative publicity

Starbucks, not officially a participant in the boycott, says it will still suspend advertising on all social media while working with civil rights groups to 'stop the spread of hate speech'

Starbucks, not officially a participant in the boycott, says it will still suspend advertising on all social media while working with civil rights groups to ‘stop the spread of hate speech’

Unilever on Friday committed to pausing its US spending on Facebook for the rest of the year

Verizon also has agreed to temporarily stop buying ads on Facebook

The ‘Stop Hate for Profit’ campaign will now work on getting European companies to join the boycott and urge regulators to take a hard stand on Facebook. Hundreds of companies including Unilever (left) and Verizon (right), have said they will not by advertising

Facebook executives have reached out to chief executives, board members and chief marketing officers of major advertisers to talk them out of the boycott, two people briefed on the discussions told Reuters. 

The boycott will be a test for advertisers on how to reach billions of consumers without relying on the largest social media platform in the world, an executive at a major ad agency said.

Companies that run ads in order to promote their brand image rather than to make direct sales are less beholden to Facebook. Many of these, including the multinational advertisers who have joined up with the boycott, will begin to plot how they can achieve the same goals without Facebook, the executive said.

For Facebook, the boycott is unlikely to have a big long-term financial impact. 

The top 100 brands on Facebook in 2019 likely brought in only 6 percent of Facebook’s total $70 billion in annual revenue, according to a Morningstar research note citing Pathmatics data 

Facebook said last year its top 100 advertisers accounted for less than 20 percent of total ad revenue.

News of the boycott wiped away $56 billion from Facebook’s market capitalization after an 8 percent drop in its stock on Friday. But shares recovered 3 percent on Tuesday and are actually trading 8 percent higher year to date. 

For Facebook, the boycott is unlikely to have a big financial impact. The top 100 brands on Facebook in 2019 likely brought in only 6 percent of Facebook’s total $70 billion in annual revenue, according to a Morningstar research note citing Pathmatics data

For Facebook, the boycott is unlikely to have a big financial impact. The top 100 brands on Facebook in 2019 likely brought in only 6 percent of Facebook’s total $70 billion in annual revenue, according to a Morningstar research note citing Pathmatics data

Facebook saw its shares drop $56 billion in valuation Friday as companies joined a campaign  asking the social media giant to remove hate speech from its platform

Facebook saw its shares drop $56 billion in valuation Friday as companies joined a campaign  asking the social media giant to remove hate speech from its platform

But shares recovered 3 percent on Tuesday and are actually trading 8 percent higher year to date

But shares recovered 3 percent on Tuesday and are actually trading 8 percent higher year to date

On Wednesday, toymaker Lego became the latest brand to pause its ad spending on social media, confirming it would be halting all online campaigns for at least 30 days.  

‘We are committed to having a positive impact on children and the world they will inherit. That includes contributing to a positive, inclusive digital environment free from hate speech, discrimination and misinformation,’ Lego’s chief marketing officer Julia Goldin said in a statement published Wednesday.

‘We will take immediate steps to carefully review the standards we apply to advertising and engagement on global social media platforms. While we do that, we will pause all paid advertising on global social media platforms for at least 30 days,’ she added.

The social media ad boycott has continued to gather momentum since June 17, when the group of non-profits wrote an open letter calling for advertisers to withdraw from Facebook.

On Monday, cleaning goods giant Clorox joined the growing list of brands to cease advertising on Facebook. 

The company announced that it will be suspending all advertisements on the social media site through the end of the year, following suit with the likes of Ford, Denny’s, Adidas, Pepsi and Best Buy which all announced similar boycotts in the last week.

‘As a people-centered company committed to our values, we feel compelled to take action against hate speech, which we believe will increase through the balance of the year,’ Clorox said in a Monday statement. ‘This creates an increasingly unhealthy environment for people and our purpose-driven brands.’

On Monday, cleaning goods giant Clorox joined the growing list of brands to cease advertising on Facebook

On Monday, cleaning goods giant Clorox joined the growing list of brands to cease advertising on Facebook

The Clorox Company, which also includes the brands Hidden Valley Ranch and Brita, added that it would ‘maintain our planned level of advertising spending but shift to other media.’ 

Coca-Cola also pulled its advertisements from Facebook on Friday, saying though it wasn’t officially joining the boycott, it will be pausing paid advertising across 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,’ said James Quincey, Coca-Cola chairman and CEO.

A similar announcement was made by Unilever later Friday, which was then followed by Starbucks, who said it working with civil rights groups to ‘stop the spread of hate speech’ and would be ending all social media ads. 

In response to the boycott, a Facebook spokeswoman said the company invests billions each year to ensure safety and continuously works with outside experts to review and update its policies.

The company has banned 250 white supremacist organizations from Facebook and Instagram, she said, adding that the company’s substantial investment artificial intelligence technology allows Facebook to find nearly 90 percent of hate speech before users report it.

‘We know we have more work to do, and we’ll continue to work with civil rights groups, GARM, and other experts to develop even more tools, technology and policies to continue this fight,’ the spokesperson added.

Numerous companies are pausing social-media spending for the Stop Hate for Profit campaign

The Stop Hate for Profit campaign was launched by civil rights groups after the death of George Floyd in police custody triggered widespread protests against racial discrimination in the US. 

In addition to Starbucks, Verizon, Unilever and Ben & Jerry’s, the following companies will pause advertising on social media platforms:

Coca-Cola Co

The beverage maker will pause paid advertising on all social media platforms globally for at least 30 days, Chief Executive Officer James Quincey said in a statement. 

Lego

‘We are committed to having a positive impact on children and the world they will inherit. That includes contributing to a positive, inclusive digital environment free from hate speech, discrimination and misinformation,’ Lego’s chief marketing officer Julia Goldin said in a statement published Wednesday. 

Clorox Co

‘As a people-centered company committed to our values, we feel compelled to take action against hate speech, which we believe will increase through the balance of the year,’ the company said. ‘This creates an increasingly unhealthy environment for people and our purpose-driven brands. 

Lululemon Athletica

‘We will be pausing paid advertising on Facebook and Instagram,’ the company said. 

Levi Strauss & Co

‘We and Dockers are joining the #StopHateForProfit campaign and pausing all ads on Facebook and Instagram,’ the apparel company said. 

Diageo Plc

The world’s largest spirits maker will pause all paid advertising globally on major social media platforms.

The North Face

The outdoor brand, a unit of VF Corp, said it would pull out of all Facebook-owned platforms.

‘We’re in. We’re Out @Facebook.’

Eddie Bauer

“In support of the ‘#StopHateforProfit’ initiative, Eddie Bauer will suspend all paid ads on Facebook and Instagram through the end of July, effective immediately,” the clothing store chain said in a tweet. (https://bit.ly/2Yso440)

Goodby Silverstein

‘We will join #StopHate4Profit and stop posting on Facebook for the month of July,’ the advertising agency said.

Magnolia Pictures

The film distributor and studio became the first Hollywood company to join the movement. The company said in a tweet it would stop advertising on Facebook and Instagram, starting immediately, through at least the end of July. 

Patagonia

‘We will pull all ads on Facebook and Instagram, effective immediately, through at least the end of July, pending meaningful action from the social media giant,’ the outdoor apparel brand said.

Rakuten Viber

‘Viber will remove all Facebook-related contact points from our app including Facebook Connect, Facebook SDK, and GIPHY, as well as cease all ad spending on Facebook,’ Djamel Agaoua, chief executive officer of the messaging app company, said in a statement on Twitter. 

Recreational Equipment

‘For 82 years, we have put people over profits. We’re pulling all Facebook/Instagram advertising for the month of July,’ REI tweeted.

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