The 'Stop Hate for Profit' movement is gaining momentum quickly: following The North Face's example, big names such as Starbucks, Unilever and Coca-Cola are now all taking a break from advertising on Facebook. In the meantime, the social network says it is taking measures against hateful content.
Over 530 brands take part
Responding to the protests against racism, American civil rights organisations have been calling for a boycott of Facebook and sister platform Instagram for several weeks now. Under the slogan 'Stop Hate for Profit', they say that the social medium earns money by spreading hate messages and demand that Facebook take a stricter stance against racist content on the platform - especially now that important presidential elections are approaching in the United States.
As one of the first major brands, outdoor brand The North Face responded to the call, quickly followed by competitor Patagonia and ice cream brand Ben & Jerry's. A few days later, the parent company of Ben & Jerry's, Unilever, followed suit. Under increasing pressure, advertising giants Starbucks and Coca-Cola are now taking a stand as well.
Unilever stops paying for ads on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter until the end of this year, while Coca-Cola takes a break of only thirty days - albeit on all social media worldwide. Starbucks says it will engage with social media networks and civil rights organisations to see how it can contribute. Meanwhile, the coffee chain will also stop paying for posts.
More recent brands that have heeded the call are Microsoft, Vans and Sony, among many others. More than 500 businesses and organizations have already announced they were refraining from advertising on Facebook, according to Sleeping Giants, one of the campaign's organisers. On Wednesday alone, 97 new names were added.
56 billion dollar hit
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has meanwhile announced a change of policy: advertisements that label some groups of people as physical or health threats will be banned, while Facebook wants to better protect migrants against messages that might portray them as inferior.
Some messages that the platform considers to be newsworthy - even if they go against the rules - are allowed to remain, but are given a label to warn that they go against the policy. Zuckerberg thinks in particular of statements made by important politicians. In this way, he wants to prevent the social network from losing its role as a news platform: what appears in the newspapers must also (and preferably first) appear on Facebook.
On the stock exchange, the share lost almost 10 % of its value after the boycott reports, which caused Facebook to (temporarily) lose 56 billion dollars. Mark Zuckerberg is said to have lost his place in the top three richest people in the world, according to Bloomberg. Yet with eight million advertisers and over sixty billion euros in advertising revenue, the platform's revenue model is still secured. Moreover, the hundred largest advertisers only account for 6 % of income from marketing: the majority comes from smaller, local companies that cannot make bold statements but depend on the social medium for their marketing.