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SummaryMost relevantAll NewsAnalyst Reco.Other languagesPress ReleasesOfficial PublicationsSector newsMarketScreener Strategies

Facebook Ad Boycott Grows, Citing Failure to Control Hate Speech -- Update

06/29/2020 | 05:25pm EDT

By Micah Maidenberg

Ford Motor Co., Clorox Co. and Denny's Corp. are joining a parade of companies that have moved to halt advertising spending on Facebook Inc. because of how the social-media giant has handled speech on its platforms.

Ford said Monday it will suspend its national social-media advertising for 30 days, as it re-evaluates spending on sites. Restaurant chain Denny's said it is pausing paid advertising on Facebook starting Wednesday.

Clorox -- the company behind its namesake cleaning supplies, Kingsford charcoal and other consumer brands -- said it is pausing global ad spending on Facebook and Instagram through December. The move is to act against hate speech, "which we believe will increase through the balance of the year," the company said in a statement.

Civil-rights groups like the NAACP have been pushing advertisers to pull spending from Facebook to protest what they describe as a failure to halt hate speech and misinformation on its platform.

It isn't immediately clear whether the boycott will take a meaningful toll on business at Facebook, which has the second-largest share of the U.S. digital ad market. Operating chief Sheryl Sandberg said in April that Facebook had 8 million advertisers on its main platform.

In a Monday research note, MKM Partners linked to a spreadsheet that by the evening listed more than 240 companies, organizations and individuals committed to the campaign associated with the hashtag #StopHateForProfit.

The varied approaches companies are taking to pause spending could have a muted impact on Facebook. Some advertisers pledged to pull spending for July, while others are planning longer pauses. In addition some firms are pulling spending on Facebook, but not Facebook-owned Instagram.

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 artificial intelligence allows Facebook to find close to 90% of hate speech before users report it.

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg has said the company was making further changes to its platform. On Friday he said Facebook will add labels to certain posts and forbid advertisements that claim specific groups of people pose threats to the physical safety, health or survival of others.

Within the past week, Verizon Communications Inc., Coca-Cola Co., Unilever PLC, Levi Strauss & Co. and Denny's Corp. were among companies announcing they would pause spending on Facebook.

Unilever, the consumer-products company behind Dove soap, Hellmann's mayonnaise and other items, said it would halt ad spending on Facebook and Twitter for at least the remainder of the year, citing hate speech and other divisive content.

Verizon said it would suspend spending on Facebook and Instagram. Coca-Cola Co. and spirits maker Diageo PLC said they would temporarily halt spending on all social-media platforms for an unspecified length of time, starting in July. Starbucks Corp. said it would pause advertising on all social media pending internal discussions and those with media partners and civil rights groups.

Meanwhile, a Microsoft Corp. spokesperson said the tech giant has paused spending on Facebook and Instagram. Axios had earlier reported the software giant suspended its advertising on Facebook's platforms in May and has concerns about the placement of advertisements but isn't taking part in the larger boycott effort.

Write to Micah Maidenberg at micah.maidenberg@wsj.com


Corrections & Amplifications

This article was corrected on June 30, 2020 because the original incorrectly said Diageo would temporarily halt such spending for 30 days. Diageo PLC is pausing advertising spending on major social-media platforms for an unspecified length of time.

Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
DENNY'S CORPORATION -2.23% 14.92 Delayed Quote.1.63%
DIAGEO PLC 0.61% 3479 Delayed Quote.20.92%
FACEBOOK INC -1.25% 367.81 Delayed Quote.34.65%
FORD MOTOR COMPANY -1.71% 13.79 Delayed Quote.56.88%
LEVI STRAUSS & CO. -2.43% 26.5 Delayed Quote.31.97%
MICROSOFT CORPORATION -0.87% 286.54 Delayed Quote.28.83%
STARBUCKS CORPORATION -0.02% 126.03 Delayed Quote.17.81%
THE CLOROX COMPANY -0.88% 182.83 Delayed Quote.-9.45%
VERIZON COMMUNICATIONS 0.75% 56.2 Delayed Quote.-5.06%
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