Facebook’s Woes Could Get Worse: Survey Suggests More Advertisers May Bail From Social Media

Black Lives Matter

TOPLINE

A survey released Tuesday suggests the advertising boycott of Facebook—which now includes big names like Ford, Best Buy and Adidas, among 250 companies—could evolve into something much worse, with a full one-third of all top advertisers moving away from social media.

KEY FACTS

A survey released Tuesday by the World Federation of Advertisers reports that a third of the world’s biggest brands will halt spending on social media, or are likely to do so, and an additional 41% are still undecided on whether to initiate an advertising pause.

The results, described by the WFA’s chief executive Stephan Loerke as a “turning point,” came from a poll of the organization’s 58 members responsible for nearly $100 billion in advertising spending worldwide. 

Facebook’s shares dipped 10% Monday as Best Buy, Pfizer Ford, Adidas, Clorox, Patreon, Chobani, Madewell, Vans and more said they would halt advertising on the platform because of its handling of hate speech and misinformation. 

This trend has even expanded beyond the U.S. with several international companies, including German automaker Volkswagen, Honda Europe, Ford Europe, oil group BP, French-owned EDF Energy and British drinks brand Britvic freshly joining the boycott.

Though some, like Starbucks and Microsoft, have halted spending independently, the majority of the boycott’s participants are joining a campaign entitled #StopHateForProfit, which was launched by civil rights groups, including the NAACP and the Anti-Defamation League, on June 17.  

The boycott officially runs through July, though a number of marketers have said they will stop spending indefinitely until tangible changes are made to address the campaign’s concerns. 

Quick Tangent

Joe Biden’s presidential campaign joined in criticizing Facebook on Monday, asking in a letter that the platform prevent President Trump from spreading “hateful content” and incorrect claims about mail-in voting as the November election draws near, according to a copy obtained by The Washington Post. The letter also addressed a Sunday report from The Post that Facebook executives attempted to persuade the president to “tweak or delete” a controversial post last month that threatened to send in the military to deal with Minneapolis protesters instead of taking a “clear and transparent stand based on established policies.”

Key Background 

As more of its key customers continued to join the boycott, Facebook—originally stating it will “not make policy changes tied to revenue pressure”— attempted to make concessions Friday, saying it would begin labeling posts from politicians that violate its policies, but are still newsworthy. However, proponents of #StopHateForProfit clearly remain unsatisfied and accuse Facebook of continuing to encourage violence, voter suppression and the spread of fake news. “Let’s send Facebook a powerful message: Your profits will never be worth promoting hate, bigotry, racism, antisemitism and violence,” the campaign website reads.

Further Reading 

“Best Buy, Ford Join Over 250 Companies In Massive Facebook Boycott” (Forbes)

“Democratic Senators Demand Facebook Answer For Its White Supremacist Problem” (Forbes)

“In Reversal, Zuckerberg Says Facebook Will Label Newsworthy Posts That Violate Its Rules” (Forbes)

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