Opinion | Brands on Facebook risk being unfriended2 min read 28 Jun 2020, 09:08 PM IST
It is sensible of advertisers to go off this social media network in alarm over hate speech. Facebook promises to end the menace, but its advertisers may still run a reputation risk
A veritable wave of boycotts by some of the world’s largest advertisers has hit Facebook, knocking the company’s shares down by more than 8% on Friday and jolting shareholders. These advertisers are worried about its reluctance to place sufficient curbs on hateful, incendiary and false content on its social media platform. On Friday, Unilever, a maker of consumer goods that has one of the world’s largest ad budgets, joined about 100 companies such as Coca-Cola, Verizon, Honda America and Levi Strauss & Company that have opted to shun the medium either partially or fully. The list is growing, and seems a response to a recent campaign in the US by civil rights groups calling upon corporations to suspend advertising on Facebook this July. While many have decided to pull their ads off for 30 days, Unilever has cited a “polarised election period" to say it would not reach out via Facebook, Instagram or Twitter in America for the rest of 2020. This advertiser rebellion has prompted Facebook’s chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg to declare tighter controls on what can appear on the network. What qualifies for its hate speech prohibitions would be widened in scope, he said, and labels will be used to caution audiences. Even “newsworthy" posts will face stiff action if they threaten peace, he added, no matter whose they are.