Starbucks, Diageo Suspend All Social Ads As Boycott's Influence Spirals 06/29/2020

Smirnoff vodka

Diageo owns the world’s biggest vodka brand Smirnoff

While Facebook is a valuable tool for companies searching for eyeballs and customers willing to dip into their wallets, the boycott hurts the social media company more than the brands edging away from it, said Joanne McNeish, an associate professor of marketing at Ryerson University.

Canadian companies are joining a growing list of top global brands vowing not to advertise on Facebook July because of the company's refusal to deal with the spread of hateful content on its platform. "We believe more must be done to create welcoming and inclusive online communities, and we believe both business leaders and policy makers need to come together to affect real change".

Free Press and Common Sense, along with United States civil rights groups Color of Change and the Anti-Defamation League, launched the campaign following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man killed by Minneapolis police.

According to the statement, the company will pause all advertising on social media while continuing to have discussions "internally, with our media partners, and with civil rights organisations" about ending the spread of hate speech.

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Although Starbucks did not explicitly name Facebook in the statement, its move comes as a growing movement to boycott the social network for not doing enough to stop hate speech on its platforms gathers steam.

The boycott gained momentum amid the latest civil unrest as activists have pressed Facebook to be more aggressive in curbing racism and inflammatory content, including from President Donald Trump. "We will take this time to reassess our advertising policies to determine whether revisions are needed".

"Non-profit groups are appealing to advertisers to police social media, given the general reluctance or refusal of the companies to do so themselves".

Other brands joining the pause late last week or over the weekend include Beam Suntory and American Honda (the latter's estimated 2019 U.S. Facebook spend was $6 million). Even if a politician or government official says it, if Facebook determines that content may lead to violence or deprive people of their right to vote, Zuckerberg said it will take that content down.

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Mark Zuckerberg had $US7 billion wiped off his fortune as advertisers boycott Facebook.

The stock had tumbled 8.3 per cent Friday after Unilever, one of the world's largest advertisers, said it would cease spending on Facebook properties this year, eliminating US$56 billion in market value and shaving the net worth of Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg by more than US$7 billion.

Moosehead, which is behind the Moosehead Lager, Cracked Canoe, Alpine Lager and Hop City brands, joined the pledge on Monday afternoon and said it will stop advertising on both Facebook and Instagram.

The renewed push to urge more companies outside of the United States to join demonstrates the level of frustration felt by social justice groups and the companies that support them over Facebook's lack of action on misinformation and hate speech, Steyer said.

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Facebook has been cowering behind their stance that they support free speech as a way of maintaining an anything-goes stance on its platform, assuming that anything isn't a breastfeeding mother.

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