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More and more companies are stopping Facebook advertising

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Facebook and Twitter are criticized because of a flood of hate comments, propaganda, spam and fake news in their services. An advertising boycott against Facebook receives additional supporters with Unilever and Honda. Facebook boss Zuckerberg now wants to do more.

Unilever justified the decision with the responsibility of the company in dealing with controversial contributions on the net – especially in view of the tense political atmosphere in the USA. Photo: Daniel Reinhardt / dpa (Image: dpa)
(Photo: Daniel Reinhardt / dpa)

London / New York – More and more companies are joining an advertising boycott in protest at Facebook’s handling of hate comments and derogatory content in its services.

The consumer goods giant Unilever and the carmaker Honda announced that they will no longer advertise on the online network and its subsidiary Instagram in the USA for the time being. The beverage giant Coca Cola also announced that it would suspend its advertising on all social platforms worldwide for at least 30 days.

A spokeswoman for the company said, however, according to the newspaper “The New York Times”, that Coca Cola would not join the official boycott call. The company would review its advertising strategies and advise on any necessary changes during this advertising break, President and CEO James Quincey said in a message. “We also expect more responsibility and more transparency from our social media partners,” he said.

At Coca Cola alone, the advertising budget in the United States in 2019 was estimated at $ 22 million (just under € 21 million), the New York Times reported, referring to data from industry analyst Pathmatics. At Unilever, it was around $ 42 million.

Hershey, one of the world’s leading chocolate producers, also confirmed to the USA Today newspaper on Friday that it would join the boycott call and not run any ads in July. The company also plans to cut spending on Facebook and Instagram by a third for the rest of the year.

US civil rights organizations called on companies to boycott Facebook in mid-June. This is how the group is to be hit at a sensitive point – Facebook generates almost all of its revenue from advertising revenue. The US wave of protests against racism and police violence has again flared up criticism of Facebook for carelessly handling controversial posts. Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg made a significant contribution to this, refusing to take action against controversial statements by US President Donald Trump. There was even criticism from our own employees.

Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg announced on Friday in a livestream that he would act more strongly against hate messages in the future, delete false reports immediately before the US presidential election and raise the standards for advertising. “I stand against hatred and everything that incites violence,” said Zuckerberg at the company’s headquarters in Palo Alto, where he announced the planned measures of his company.

In addition, depreciative and hateful messages about ethnicity, religion or sexual preferences are to be blocked in advertising. Zuckerberg also said that some Facebook content that actually violates the guidelines of the social network, but is relevant to news for example due to a prominent sender, will be flanked with information in the future.

However, according to media reports, some companies subsequently expressed doubts about it. “We do not believe that Facebook will efficiently manage violent and divisive speeches on its platforms,” ​​Hershey wrote in a statement quoted by the US newspaper USA Today. “Despite repeated pledges from Facebook to take action, we haven’t seen any significant changes.”

Honda announced that it would no longer place ads on Facebook and Instagram in July to send a signal against “hate and racism”. Unilever even wants to forego paid advertising for the rest of the year – not only on Facebook but also on Twitter. The short message service, on which Trump likes to publish his often controversial messages, has also been criticized for some time. The Dutch-British group does not want to cut its US advertising budget, but only redistribute it to other companies.

Previously, several other companies, including the US mobile communications giant Verizon and the well-known outdoor brands The North Face and Patagonia, had joined the #StopHateForProfit initiative. Unilever – whose ice cream brand Ben & Jerry’s was also there – is now going one step further – because the campaign was initially only about an advertising boycott in July. After the announcement by the consumer goods company, Facebook and Twitter came under strong pressure on the stock exchange.

© dpa-infocom, dpa: 200627-99-584781 / 3

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