Hitting pause on Facebook advertising

Why are Patagonia, The North Face, REI, Upwork, Verizon, Ben & Jerry’s and more brands hitting pause on their Facebook advertising spend for the month of July (and potentially beyond)?

They’ve joined a movement (centred in the USA) calling on Facebook to protect and support Black users, call out Holocaust denial as hate, help get out the vote – and more. With Facebook advertising spend hitting $70 billion annually, the movement – “#StopHateForProfit” – is designed to put pressure on Facebook by impacting the giant’s bottom line.

The organisations behind the movement are the Anti-Defamation League, the NAACP, Sleeping Giants, Color of Change, Free Press and Common Sense. These organisations, who have been working with Facebook to improve content moderation processes & policies, believe insufficient action from Facebook is leaving harmful content online. And they’re calling on advertisers to increase pressure on Facebook to make improvements.

According to the StopHateForProfit website, there are some specific things Facebook could do to improve its moderation procedures Among others, these include:

  • Create a separate moderation pipeline for users who express that they have been targeted because of specific identity characteristics such as race or religion. This pipeline must include experts on various forms of identity-based hate.
  • Create internal mechanisms (for every media format on every Facebook platform) that automatically remove all ads from content labeled as misinformation or hate.
  • At the request of a member of a private group, provide at least one Facebook-affiliated moderator per group with more than 150 members. Consider more moderators for even larger groups. 

Source: https://www.stophateforprofit.org/productrecommendations

With the upcoming election, Facebook is facing criticism from both ends of politics – some complaining that they are not doing enough to filter hate speech and misinformation, and others stating that free speech controls have gone too far.

While it has stated a commitment to being “a force for good”, Facebook has yet to make any indication they plan to change policies or processes to manage hate speech and misinformation. The large advertisers who have joined the movement certainly have significant buying power, but whether the movement will create enough impact to force the behemoth to move is yet to be seen.

Our take? While we believe the movement may not directly result in immediate changes to Facebook’s practices, we see the momentum growing. There’s an overall climate of increasing pressure on Facebook to claim accountability for monitoring, regulating, and reporting on hate speech and misinformation. We see the movement growing stronger and further measures being implemented by Facebook – and other organisations – in the near future.