Sonos today announced that it will remove advertising for its speakers across Facebook, Instagram, Google, YouTube, and Twitter for a week — yes, just one week — beginning on Monday. “We are concerned by the recent revelations about Facebook and the exploitation of its platform,” the company said in a blog post. In addition to hitting pause on its advertising, Sonos says its Facebook and Instagram accounts will go dark next week as well.
“Big digital platforms offer us incredible opportunities to personalize and contextualize the advertising we deliver to you. But with the power of those capabilities comes a great responsibility that can’t be neglected.”
“The Cambridge Analytica scandal, like many recent headlines coming out of Silicon Valley, raises questions about whether Big Tech is doing enough to balance its own interests with one of its biggest responsibilities: safeguarding your privacy.” Sonos says that it will be making a donation in support of the RightsCon conference and plans to participate in the event this year. “RightsCon is one of the only forums where tech companies engage directly with activists on equal terms, enabling solutions that can help forge a healthier technology ecosystem that works for everyone.” The conference runs from May 16th–18th in Toronto. RightsCon is put on by AccessNow, one of the organizations involved with Sonos’ Listen Now campaign.
Sonos doesn’t specify why it’s lumping Google, YouTube, and Twitter in with Facebook as part of this week-long halt of advertising, but it’s safe to assume they fall under that “Big Tech” banner, and the companies haven’t been without their own advertising and / or privacy fumbles.
Is a (very) temporary suspension of ads from Sonos really going to make any kind of difference? No, it’s not. Some people will inevitably and understandably view it as a stunt and PR grab. Sonos claims the small gesture is meant to contribute to a much broader conversation it wants to see happen that’s focused on user privacy. “Some of you may ask: why not permanently abandon these platforms if we are so concerned? Despite the flaws of these massive digital networks, we fundamentally believe in the power of technology to bring us together and to create deeper, shared experiences. We have found Facebook, Instagram, and other online platforms to be incredibly effective ways to reach our customers and to share our mission as a company.”
Sonos isn’t alone in halting Facebook ad buys after the Cambridge Analytica controversy; this week, Mozilla announced similar plans.