Verizon is the latest and by far the largest company to join an ongoing advertising boycott of Facebook and Instagram, the cell carrier announced on Thursday. The boycott, organized by the Anti-Defamation League, follows the treatment by the social media giant of President Donald Trump’s inflammatory messages, as well as the persistent problems of disinformation which have intensified in recent weeks due to the protests against the police brutality and racism and other current events that exposed the flaws in Facebook’s moderation approach.
Verizon joins the Ben & Jerry ice cream brand and many outdoor sports and lifestyle companies, including The North Face and Patagonia, and boycott film distributor Magnolia Pictures. A number of digital advertising agencies have also started advising their clients on how to participate and one, i360, has publicly expressed support, reports Wall Street newspaper.
“We have strict content policies in place and have zero tolerance for violations, we are taking action,” said Verizon media director John Nitti. CNBC in a report. “We are suspending our advertising until Facebook can create an acceptable solution that makes us comfortable and consistent with what we have done with YouTube and other partners. “According to marketing analysis company Pathmatics, Verizon ranked 78th in the list of the best Facebook advertisers for the period from May 22 to June 20, 2020, reports Meg Graham of CNBC, with an expenditure of nearly 1.5 million dollars on Facebook and almost $ 500,000 on Instagram.
According to Pathmatics, Verizon spent approximately $ 406,600 on GI ads between 5/22/6/20. The company said that Verizon had spent $ 1,460,300 on FB during the same period (making it the 78th biggest advertiser on FB during this period, P&G, HBO, Biden & Trump having spent the most during this period on FB) https://t.co/CBldUKBCqy
– Meg Graham (@megancgraham) June 25, 2020
In a statement, Carolyn Everson, company vice president of her Global Business Group, said that Facebook had ongoing conversations with advertisers on how to be a “force for good” and was trying to improve its moderation approach. “We respect any brand decision and remain focused on the important work of suppressing hate speech and providing essential voting information. Our conversations with marketers and civil rights organizations are about how together we can be a force for good. “
Participating companies, including Verizon, said they plan to run ads throughout July, but will resume buying placements on Facebook after that. Verizon has given no concrete reasoning for this decision. Still, the company’s decision aligns with the requirements set out in an open letter from ADL to Facebook advertisers published earlier today, which used Verizon as an example of Facebook failures, telling how one of the ads from the company was found against a post promoting the QAnon marginal conspiracy theory. .
The letter is part of the ADL’s broader boycott effort, called Hit Pause on Hate, aimed at penalizing Facebook for its inaction and trying to influence the company to change its policies. This effort reflects many of the same tactics used by activists to inspire a similar boycott of YouTube in 2017 during comparable and long-standing moderation struggles on the video platform.
“When it comes to combating widespread hatred and harassment, the platform continues to fail. What do they do with $ 70 billion in revenue and $ 17 billion in profit? Reads the ADL open letter. “Their policies of hate speech, incitement and misinformation are inequitable. Their services to victims of harassment are insufficient. The proximity of their advertising space to hateful content is random. And their reports on the transparency of “civil rights” audits are not useful to the civil rights community. “
For the other brands participating in the boycott, a point of contention with the social network has been its indecision regarding Trump’s messages calling for violence against protesters and other forms of state force. Unlike Twitter, which has started to label Trump’s tweets as misleading or limiting their scope on the rules on calls to violence, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has taken a hard position not to let the talk of Trump intact, despite the knock-on effects, even within the company.
Facebook has taken steps in the past month to try to resolve the controversy. Zuckerberg has spoken at length in public statements of his decision-making, and the company recently decided to remove advertisements from the Trump campaign containing Nazi images. In a recent election integrity announcement, Zuckerberg also said that Facebook would allow users to opt out of political ads in the future, although the company still refuses to verify these ads before the 2020 US election.
In addition, Facebook joined Twitter to delete a manipulated video of two toddlers that Trump republished from a popular far-right account, which Twitter then permanently suspended. Twitter originally called the tweet version of the video “manipulated media” because it falsely claimed to show CNN maliciously editing a video it never released in the first place. But the two platforms deleted the video after a copyright claim was filed by one of the parents of the toddlers featured in the clip.
Update from June 25 at 7:02 p.m. ET: Added Facebook statement.