Coca-Cola, Starbucks and Unilever join growing Facebook ad boycott

More than 90 major advertisers have or are planning top pull advertising from Facebook, which makes around 98% of its $70bn annual revenue from advertising, as part of the ‘Stop Hate for Profit’ campaign.

Coca-Cola, Starbucks and Unilever have joined a growing list of latest major advertisers pulling advertising from Facebook amid concerns over hate speech and disinformation on the platform.

“Continuing to advertise on these platforms at this time would not add value to people and society,” says Unilever, which is halting all Twitter, Facebook and Instagram advertising in the US “at least” through 2020. “We will revisit our current position if necessary.”

The move is part of the ‘Stop Hate for Profit’ campaign, which is calling on the social network to implement stricter measures around hateful and racist content on its platforms.

Coca-Cola is pausing advertising on all social media platforms globally, with the drinks giant’s CEO James Quincey demanding “greater accountability and transparency” from social media firms.

“There is no place for racism in the world and there is no place for racism on social media,” says Quincey, adding that Coca-Cola will reassess its advertising policies to determine whether revisions are needed.

Starbucks, meanwhile, will “have discussions internally and with media partners and civil rights organisations to stop the spread of hate speech” but it will continue to post on social media without paid promotion.

More than 90 advertisers have now pulled advertising from Facebook, which makes around 98% of its $70bn annual revenue from advertising. However, much of this is from small businesses, rather than large multinationals, raising questions over how much the campaign will impact Facebook’s business.

Nevertheless, the boycott is a PR risk for Facebook. And on Friday it changed its position to say it will now label potentially harmful posts on its platform, as well as ban ads that describe different groups, based on their race or immigration status, as a threat.

“A handful of times a year, we leave up content that would otherwise violate our policies if the public interest value outweighs the risk of harm,” Zuckerberg said. “Often, seeing speech from politicians is in the public interest, and in the same way that news outlets will report what a politician says, we think people should generally be able to see it for themselves on our platforms.

“We will soon start labelling some of the content we leave up because it is deemed newsworthy, so people can know when this is the case.”

This was not enough, however to stop the growing number of brands signing up to stop ad spend on Facebook in July at least. Levi’s has since tweeted that it is joining the Stop Hate For Profit campaign and pausing all ads on Facebook and Instagram.

The campaign is also going global, with a number of companies halting spend worldwide. These include British drinks company Diageo, which says in a tweet: “Diageo strives to promote diversity, including through our own marketing campaigns. From 1 July, we will pause all paid advertising globally on major social media platforms. We will continue to discuss with media partners how they will deal with unacceptable content.”