Social media giant Facebook has been getting bad news ever since some of the company’s key employees went public with their frustration over the company’s policy against censoring comments on the platform. At the time, Facebook publicly acknowledged and even welcomed the employee’s criticisms, but now that criticism has spilled out, coalescing into a movement called #StopHateforProfit, led by a coalition of civil rights groups.
One of the chief early aims of this movement is to put pressure on advertisers to get them to stop supporting platforms that the coalition feels are supporting hate. The group made that clear when it directly called for advertisers to pull their funding from Facebook in a message that referred to Facebook’s policy of non-intervention as a “repeated failure to meaningfully address the vast proliferation of hate on its platforms…”
It did not take long for several big-name advertisers to respond. Two of the first were The North Face and Patagonia, outdoor apparel and equipment companies that are veterans of politically-active business action. Both companies have come out in support of socio-political issues in the past, so this really isn’t a surprise.
The North Face made its position clear with a simple message: “We’re in… We’re out, Facebook. #StopHateForProfit.” The company posted this message on its Twitter page. Further media reports confirmed and clarified these comments mean The North Face will not be advertising on either Facebook or Instagram, which is owned by Facebook. The company will, however, continue to be active on the Instagram platform. In a statement, the company said:
“The North Face is halting all activity and U.S. paid advertising with Facebook until stricter policies are put in place to stop racist, violent, or hateful content and misinformation from circulating on the platform…”
Patagonia made a similar statement, pulling advertising from both Facebook and Instagram with the following message: “From secure elections to a global pandemic to racial justice, the stakes are too high to sit back and let the company continue to be complicit in spreading disinformation and fomenting fear and hatred…” Again, this message was communicated in a series of tweets, which included a stark and clear line in the sand from the company:
“As companies across the country work hard to ensure that Americans have access to free and fair elections this fall, we can’t stand by and contribute resources to companies that contribute to the problem…”
Another traditionally politically-active company, ice cream maker, Ben & Jerry’s, followed suit. In a public statement, the company specifically came out in support of the NAACP and the ADL, as well as “all those calling for Facebook to take stronger action to stop its platforms from being used to divide our nation, suppress voters, foment and fan the flames of racism and violence, and undermine our democracy… As of July 1, we will pause all paid advertising on Facebook and Instagram in the United States as part of the #StopHateForProfit campaign. We call on Facebook, Inc. to take the clear and unequivocal actions called for by the campaign to stop its platform from being used to spread and amplify hate…”
And, as it turned out, this was just the beginning. Soon, other businesses from across multiple industries were pulling their ads and publicly chastising Facebook. Among these were REI, Upwork, Dashlane, Eddie Bauer, and Magnolia Pictures.
As they did when their employees spoke out, Facebook chose to publicly lean in and listen, offering this statement: “We deeply respect any brand’s decision and remain focused on the important work of removing hate speech and providing critical voting information… Our conversations with marketers and civil rights organizations are about how, together, we can be a force for good…”