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

Go deeper

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Facebook updates Quest VR headset, will test sensors for AR glasses

Photo: Facebook

Facebook on Wednesday introduced a new version of its Oculus Quest and took the next step in a longer-term push toward augmented reality glasses.

Why it matters: Facebook has made big bets on virtual reality and augmented reality as key to its future and it is moving forward despite concerns from regulators and privacy advocates.

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Photos: Facebook

Facebook's foray into virtual and augmented reality, which it doubled down on this week, is a bet on where the future of online social interaction is heading. But even more important to Facebook, it's also a plan to make sure the company owns a big piece of whatever platform ultimately supplants the smartphone.

Why it matters: In the smartphone era, Facebook has found itself at the mercy of Apple and — to a lesser degree — Google and Android phone makers. The company doesn't want to see history repeat itself.

Sep 16, 2020 - Podcasts

How 2020 changed advertising

Dozens of celebrities, including Kim Kardashian West, aren't posting to their Facebook or Instagram feeds Wednesday, as part of the "Stop Hate for Profit" campaign.

Axios Re:Cap digs into whether this temporary boycott matters, and how the broader advertising market has morphed in 2020.