Facebook headquarters in California in 2019 (illustration photo) - AFP

  • Launched by civil rights associations in the United States, this boycott campaign entitled "Stop Hate for Profit" was born in the wake of the protest movement after the death of Georges Floyd .
  • In a few days, famous groups and brands announced the temporary or prolonged cessation of their advertising investments on Facebook and its networks.
  • Despite some recent developments in moderation, the social media giant is accused of being too permissive with hateful, violent or racist speech.

New storm warning for the American social media giant. For almost a week, Facebook has been the subject of an unprecedented boycott of advertising. Initiated by a handful of socially engaged brands, this movement, entitled “Stop Hate for Profit”, now brings together more than a hundred American and Anglo-Saxon brands, such as The North Face, Patagonia, Levi's, Ben & Jerry's or Coca-Cola.

The social network, deemed too permissive with regard to hateful content and violent or racist speech, is suffering the blow and significant financial losses. In a context of increasingly strong polarization and social tensions across the Atlantic, this movement could soon spread to Europe. How did this campaign come about and what real impact can it have on Facebook? 20 Minutes  takes stock.

  • Who is behind this movement?

Launched on June 17, this boycott campaign was born in the United States under the impetus of several NGOs and leading associations in the defense of civil rights. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the National Association for the Advancement of People of Color (NAACP) are among the main "partners" of the movement. The Sleeping Giants collective, already mobilized on very similar campaigns to disengage advertisers associated with far-right content, has also joined the movement. A dedicated site has been put online and allows brands and companies who wish to register to "pause", for the duration of the month of July, their advertising investments on Facebook.

  • What is the purpose of this campaign?

In a long plea disseminated on the “Stop Hate for Profit” site, the organizers detail their approach. "Social networks have allowed hatred and extremism to spread faster than ever (...). Every day, our organizations are alerted to numerous examples of hate messages and misinformation posted on Facebook and supported by paid advertisements, ”we read.

🚨 Call to advertisers 🚨 Assert

your aspirations with less hatred and intolerance on Facebook. Affirm your moral and ethical values, join the #StopHateForProfit campaign and suspend your Facebook ads in July! 🌞💕 pic.twitter.com/KvmCDXqAF0

- Sleeping Giants FR (@slpng_giants_fr) June 22, 2020

Concretely, these online anti-hate associations criticize Facebook for not acting effectively against the spread of radical and racist speech on its various platforms. A reproach which has found an additional echo since the death of George Floyd, a black man killed by white police officers during his arrest. In an interview with the Reuters news agency this Saturday, June 27, the boss of Common Sense Media - one of the organizations behind the movement - called on European companies to join the boycott campaign.

  • Why does the movement seem to be spreading?

If, at the start, the majority of the brands that got involved had already positioned themselves on social or environmental themes - like Patagonia or Ben & Jerry's - others usually less inclined to decide on political issues, like Coca-Cola or Unilever , have chosen to take the plunge.

“There was a domino effect in a context of very strong social tensions in the United States. The neutrality of trademarks on subjects such as racism or the defense of civil rights is no longer tolerated. Those who have been silent in recent weeks have been strongly criticized, "explains Stéphanie Laporte, director of the" social media "program at Inseec and director of the social agency Otta. According to her, the movement could push certain French or European companies to get involved if the latter have "significant commercial stakes" on the American market.

We applaud @ Unilever's decision. We are proud our parent company is standing against hate speech and divisiveness during this polarizing election season. https://t.co/A8pzRc9VGa

- Ben & Jerry's (@benandjerrys) June 26, 2020

Patagonia is proud to join the Stop Hate for Profit campaign. We will pull all ads on Facebook and Instagram, effective immediately, through at least the end of July, pending meaningful action from the social media giant.

- Patagonia (@patagonia) June 21, 2020

However, Stéphanie Laporte underlines the “hypocrisy” of certain brands: “We must not forget that we are in a post-health crisis context with significant reductions in marketing budgets for many companies. One can imagine that certain brands which announced this temporary stop of 30 days of the campaigns on Facebook also find there a financial interest. It will be necessary to look in detail at the engagement of the brands. If some announce the cessation of their ads on the social network but continue their investments on all of Facebook's partner sites, this will have little impact. "

  • What impact can this boycott have on Facebook?

For the time being, it is difficult to measure the long-term consequences for the social network. But the "Stop Hate for Profit" campaign has already damaged the image of the firm. As of Friday, Facebook's share price fell more than 8%, causing losses estimated at $ 7.2 billion by the Bloomberg site Prompt to react, the boss of the network, Mark Zuckerberg announced in the wake of a tightening of certain moderation rules. Facebook will now remove all ads that claim that people of certain backgrounds, ethnicities, nationalities, gender or sexual orientation pose a threat to the safety or health of others. Finally, a warning message may accompany certain publications deemed to be "problematic", as implemented by its competitor Twitter.

But, here again, social media specialist Stéphanie Laporte would like to qualify: “We really have to distinguish the stock market effect from the real economy of advertisers. The degree of brand dependence on Facebook is enormous. The audience you find on Facebook and Instagram - which belongs to Facebook - you can't find elsewhere. To say today: "I agree to generate income online without going through Facebook", that is to say "I want to do the Web without going through Google". It is not impossible, but it is extremely difficult. "


Racism: Coca-Cola joins boycott of social media ads, Facebook promises changes

By the Web

Who are the Sleeping Giants, those citizens who are fighting the spread of hate online?

  • By the Web
  • Social media
  • Culture
  • George Floyd
  • Mark zuckerberg
  • Racism
  • Boycott
  • Publicity
  • Facebook