Over the past three weeks, numerous high-profile companies have joined a boycott of Facebook’s social media marketing services labelled “Stop Hate for Profit.” Participants include Ben & Jerry’s, The North Face, Magnolia Pictures, Patagonia, Verizon and Microsoft.
The campaign calls on Facebook to address its policies on hate speech and misinformation. It was triggered by the platform’s refusal to label incendiary comments made by the US President; Twitter blocked the same message, saying it violated the platform’s rules on “abusive behavior.”
Social unrest in the United States has evolved into an international movement against racism and inequality. In this heightened political climate, brands are considering how to effectively push for change. Some participants in the Facebook boycott – Ben & Jerry’s; Patagonia – have a history of activism. The participation of others, like Verizon, speaks to the magnitude and gravity of the moment.
“We have strict content policies in place and have zero tolerance when they are breached, we take action,” said Verizon’s chief media officer John Nitti in a statement, according to CNBC. “We’re pausing our advertising until Facebook can create an acceptable solution that makes us comfortable and is consistent with what we’ve done with YouTube and other partners.”
What does this mean for Facebook – and social media marketing – in the long term? The temporary boycott (most participants plan to resume advertising in August) is unlikely to harm the company’s status as a marketing behemoth. Facebook remains an effective and cost-efficient means of reaching highly targeted audiences, which makes it a critical tool for small businesses. The majority of boycott participants are large brands with resources to spare; most small- and medium-size companies simply can’t afford to not advertise on the platform.However, the boycott makes clear that Facebook has public image challenges that will need to be addressed over the coming years.
If you have questions about the Facebook advertising boycott, or if you would like to discuss how to navigate volatile political and social scenarios, contact us today. As a Google Premier Partner search and social media marketing agency, GrowthEngine Media is committed to helping your brand find the right messaging for this unprecedented moment.