The Coca-Cola Company is pausing all digital advertising on social media platforms globally for at least 30 days starting July 1st, the soda giant announced on Friday evening.
The move is part of a broader boycott of Facebook and Instagram organized by the Anti-Defamation League, the NAACP, and other organizations called the “Stop Hate For Profit” campaign. Coca-Cola is going one step further than some of those companies and banning all ads globally on social media platforms, not just Facebook and Instagram. That would suggest the boycott will hit Twitter, YouTube, and other platforms as well.
“Starting on July 1, The Coca-Cola Company will pause paid advertising on all social media platforms globally for at least 30 days,” reads a statement from Coca-Cola Company CEO James Quincey posted to the brand’s website. “We will take this time to reassess our advertising standards and policies to determine whether revisions are needed internally, and what more we should expect of our social media partners to rid the platforms of hate, violence and inappropriate content. We will let them know we expect greater accountability, action and transparency from them.”
Earlier Friday, Unilever joined Verizon as the two largest companies participating in the boycott prior to Coca-Cola’s involvement. On Saturday, multinational beverage company Diageo said it also would “pause paid advertising globally on major social media platforms” as of July 1st.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also announced a series of policy changes that, while not explicitly in response to the boycott, appear designed to try and address many of the criticisms the company has faced of late regarding its lack of moderation of violent threats, hate speech, and misinformation posted by President Donald Trump and other controversial accounts and pages.
“This continues a significant trend of major brands — including Unilever and Verizon — committing to pause Facebook ads for at least the month of July,” reads a statement from progressive nonprofit Color of Change, one of the organizers of the boycott. “Since Color Of Change and its partners, including the ADL and NAACP, launched the campaign on June 17, over 100 brands have signed on.” Color of Change President Rashad Robinson said on Friday that chocolate brand Hershey’s is also joining the boycott.
Yet while the boycott may be creating a wave of bad press for Facebook and Instagram, it’s unlikely even major advertisers pausing ad spending for one month will have a substantial effect on Facebook’s bottom line, as a majority of the company’s ad revenue comes from direct-response ads from small and medium-sized businesses.
“We invest billions of dollars each year to keep our community safe and continuously work with outside experts to review and update our policies,” a Facebook spokesperson said in an email to The Verge. “We’ve opened ourselves up to a civil rights audit, and we have banned 250 white supremacist organizations from Facebook and Instagram. The investments we have made in AI mean that we find nearly 90 percent of Hate Speech we action before users report it to us, while a recent EU report found Facebook assessed more hate speech reports in 24 hours than Twitter and YouTube. We know we have more work to do, and we’ll continue to work with civil rights groups, GARM, and other experts to develop even more tools, technology and policies to continue this fight.”
The Stop Hate For Profit campaign launched last week, starting with popular sports and outdoor lifestyle brands like The North Face and Patagonia. It has since gained steam with mainstream corporate America after picking up support from ice cream brand Ben & Jerry’s and film distributor Magnolia Pictures. On Friday, Honda announced it was joining the campaign as well, and would halt advertising on Facebook and Instagram in July. “This is in alignment with our company’s values, which are grounded in human respect,” the company tweeted.
For the month of July, American Honda is withholding its advertising on Facebook and Instagram. We choose to stand with people united against hate and racism. This is in alignment with our company’s values, which are grounded in human respect. #StopHateForProfit— HondaInclusion (@HondaInclusion) June 26, 2020
In an open letter posted Thursday, the ADL provided more concrete details regarding the changes the boycott seeks to produce in Facebook’s policies and its approach to moderation.
“Today, we are asking all businesses to stand in solidarity with our most deeply held American values of freedom, equality and justice and not advertise on Facebook’s services in July,” read an ad the Stop Hate For Profit campaign ran in the Los Angeles Times earlier this week. “Let’s send Facebook a powerful message: Your profits will never be worth promoting hate, bigotry, racism, antisemitism and violence.”
UPDATED June 27th 8:38AM ET: Added tweet comment from Honda
UPDATED June 27th 3:44PM ET: Added comment from Facebook spokesperson