Jun 27, 2020 - Economy

The bottom-up revolution hits Facebook

Illustration of the facebook like icon holding a protest sign

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Coca-Cola, Unilever and Hershey said Friday that they're cutting back on social-media-advertising, adding seismic voices to a growing boycott of Facebook.

Why it matters: This is a vivid example of a trend spotted last year by Axios CEO Jim VandeHei, and amplified by the new American realities brought on by the virus and protests: CEOs are the new politicians. They're helping do what President Trump and Congress would not.

Coca-Cola Chairman and CEO James Quincey said the massive advertiser "will pause paid advertising on all social media platforms globally for at least 30 days."

  • And then his zinger: "We ... expect greater accountability and transparency from our social media partners.”

Similarly, Unilever headlined its announcement: "Driving a Responsible Digital Ecosystem in These Polarized Times."

  • Unilever limited its action to brand advertising on Facebook, Instagram (owned by Faceb0ok) and Twitter in the U.S.: "Continuing to advertise on these platforms at this time would not add value to people and society."

Be smart: What started out as an industry scuttle over the way Facebook moderates its content has now turned into a larger cultural battle over curbing hate and bigotry online.

  • Even Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, who speak out only occasionally on certain issues around mental health and social justice, have been privately advocating for the #stophateforprofit campaign, which includes a boycott of Facebook, according to multiple sources working closely with the couple.
Via Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook page

Also Friday, Facebook said it will flag "newsworthy" posts from politicians who break its rules, including Trump.

  • CEO Mark Zuckerberg had previously said people deserved unfiltered statements from leaders.
  • Facebook told us Friday's changes were in the works before the boycott, with an eye toward November.

The big picture... This is another example of the bottom-up revolution: Employees expect something, CEO does something, Facebook responds.

Go deeper: Facebook faces trust crisis as ad boycott grows

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