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Pause for effect

Paul Brislen, Editor. 29 June 2020, 8:35 am

A growing number of multinational companies are pulling advertising from social media in a coordinated attempt to force change under the banner #StopHateForProfit boycott campaign.

The calls for a boycott (designed to last for 30 days) comes as companies struggle to deal with consumer backlash against social media companies that refuse to rein in hate speech, predominantly from the far right, on their sites.

Facebook in particular has come under increasing pressure from users regarding its refusal to manage extremist content on its platforms (including Facebook itself, Messenger and Instagram).

Starbucks is the latest company to join in, although the caffeinated-drink empire will still advertise on YouTube. It follows Verizon, Coca Cola, the Unilever family of brands, Levi's jeans and around 100 other companies in expressing concern over social media's lack of action regarding extremist content.

Facebook's shares have fallen by more than 8% on the news, its largest fall in three months.

The boycott rounds out the three-pronged call for change at our social media giants. Users have been actively calling for change for some time, and investor groups, lead by the New Zealand Super Fund, have called for action to address the problems with social media. The funds account for US$7.5 trillion in investment between them.

While some of the companies will certainly be pausing their spend for commercial reasons following the COVID-19 outbreak, even the social media giants can't ignore the situation and, with an election looming in the US, the pressure will really start to mount for Facebook and the others to finally address the situation.


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