Jun 19, 2020 - Technology

Facebook ad boycott calls grow louder

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Calls for advertisers to boycott Facebook grew this week, amid increased scrutiny around the tech giant for the way it moderates content.

Why it matters: Tension between advertisers and the tech giant have existed for years, but now — as the country faces a reckoning over longstanding systemic racism — marketers feel more compelled to take a public stand against companies that waffle on filtering hate speech.

Driving the news: The North Face, the outdoor apparel brand, became the first major marketer on Friday to announce that it is boycotting the use of Facebook advertising.

  • Also, in an email to clients obtained by The Wall Street Journal Friday, 360i, a digital-ad agency owned by global ad holding group Dentsu Group Inc., urged its clients to support the ad boycott being advocated by civil rights groups.

What they're saying: "We deeply respect any brand’s decision and remain focused on the important work of removing hate speech and providing critical voting information," Facebook's VP of Global Marketing Solutions Carolyn Everson said in a statement to Axios. "Our conversations with marketers and civil rights organizations are about how, together, we can be a force for good."

Catch up quick: The push for an ad boycott began last week, when six civil rights groups, including the Anti-Defamation League and the NAACP, began urging marketers to stop buying ads on Facebook, using the hashtag #stophateforprofit, in a bid to pressure the company to take firmer action against hate speech and other harmful material.

  • Facebook critics like Sleeping Giants, a social media activist organization, and early Facebook investor-turned critic Roger McNamee quickly started to pressure marketers on social media using the hashtag.

Yes, but: Scattered boycotts rarely amount to any real revenue losses for the company, which saw almost $70 billion in ad revenue last year — although revenue is expected to come in nearly $16 billion below original estimates this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Go deeper: A trickle of Facebook advertisers depart in protest

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