Verizon is the last, and by far the largest, company to join an ongoing Facebook and Instagram advertising boycott, the cellular operator announced Thursday. The boycott, organized by the Anti-Defamation League, is in response to the social media giant’s handling of President Donald Trump’s incendiary posts, as well as current problems with misinformation that have escalated in recent weeks due to protests against police brutality and racism; and other news events that have exposed the shortcomings of Facebook’s moderation approach.
Verizon joins Ben & Jerry’s ice cream brand and numerous outdoor sports and lifestyle companies, including The North Face and Patagonia, and movie distributor Magnolia Pictures in the boycott. Several digital advertising agencies have also started advising clients on how to participate and one, i360, has publicly expressed its support, reports The Wall Street Journal.
“We have strict content and zero tolerance policies when they are violated, we take action,” said Verizon media director John Nitti. CNBC in a sentence. “We are pausing our advertising until Facebook can create an acceptable solution that makes us feel comfortable and is consistent with what we have done with YouTube and other partners.”
In a statement, Carolyn Everson, vice president of the company for her Global Business Group, says Facebook is having ongoing conversations with advertisers on how to be a “force for good” and is trying to improve its moderation approach. “We respect the decision of any brand and stay focused on the important work of eliminating hate speech and providing critical voting information. Our conversations with marketers and civil rights organizations discuss how together we can be a force for good. ”
Participating companies, including Verizon, say they intend to remove ads throughout July, but then resume buying on Facebook. Verizon did not provide any specific reasoning for the move. However, the company’s decision aligns with the claims outlined in an ADL open letter to Facebook advertisers released today that used Verizon as an example of Facebook’s flaws, recounting how one of the company’s ads was found. company running against a publication promoting the QAnon marginal conspiracy theory.
The letter is part of the ADL’s broader boycott effort, called Hit Pause on Hate, designed to penalize Facebook for its inaction and try to influence the company to change its policies. The effort reflects many of the same tactics activists used to inspire YouTube’s similar boycott in 2017 of the video platform’s long-standing, comparable moderation struggles.
“When it comes to dealing with rampant hate and bullying, the platform is still not enough. What are they doing with $ 70 billion in revenue and $ 17 billion in profit? Read the ADL open letter. “Their hate speech, incitement and disinformation policies are unequal. Their services for victims of bullying are inadequate. The proximity of your ad placement to hateful content is casual. And their ‘civil rights’ audit transparency reports are not helpful to the civil rights community. ”
For other brands participating in the boycott, a point of discussion with the social network has been their indecision around Trump’s publications calling for violence against protesters and other forms of state force. Unlike Twitter, which has begun to label Trump’s tweets as misleading or limiting his reach on the rules on calls to violence, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has maintained a hard-line stance around letting Trump’s speech remains intact, despite backlash even from within the company.
Facebook has taken steps in the past month to try to tackle the controversy. Zuckerberg has spoken extensively in public statements about his decision-making, and the company recently decided to remove ads from the Trump campaign containing Nazi images. In a recent electoral integrity announcement, Zuckerberg also said that Facebook will allow users to disable political announcements in the future, although the company still refuses to verify such announcements in the run-up to the 2020 U.S. election.
Additionally, Facebook joined Twitter to remove a tampered video of two young children that Trump republished from a popular far-right meme account that Twitter permanently suspended. Twitter initially tagged the tweet version of the video as “manipulated media,” because it falsely claimed it showed CNN maliciously editing a video that was never played in the first place. But both platforms removed the video after a parent of the young children filed a copyright claim in the clip.
Update June 25, 7:02 PM ET: Added statement from Facebook.