Facebook hate speech boycott had little effect on revenue

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Facebook’s high-profile advertising boycotts that began in June and escalated in July, pressuring the social network to act more forcefully against hate speech, have so far failed to dent the results of Facebook.Driving the news: Facebook exceeded Wall Street’s revenue expectations for the second quarter, and it said its advertising activity growth in the first three weeks of July was about the same as last year during the same period.

The big picture: It’s hard for a boycott – even one that features more than 1,000 big, top brands – to limit Facebook’s revenue, which mostly comes from small businesses around the world with few advertising options.

Catch up quickly: The #StopHateForProfit boycott launched in June by civil rights activists saw more than 1,000 brands support it by pulling ad spend from Facebook and other social media giants in July.

  • While some brands, like Ben & Jerry’s, say they are expanding their boycotts further, many plan to resume spending with Facebook now that July is over.

In numbers: In an earnings call with investors, Facebook CFO David Wehner said the company’s top 100 advertisers contributed about 16% of its total quarterly revenue last quarter.

  • He noted that this was a lower percentage than last year, which means Facebook was able to branch out even further away from relying on big brands last year.
  • For the third quarter, Facebook said that in the first three weeks of July, when the boycott was in full swing, total ad revenue grew 10% year over year.
  • While that rate is lower than usual for Facebook, that’s about what analysts expected, given the global advertising slowdown during the pandemic.
  • Facebook says it expects this level of ad growth to continue for the remainder of the quarter.
  • The pandemic-related advertising slowdown gave Facebook its slowest quarter of advertising growth (up 11%) since its IPO in 2012. Facebook continues to grow even as Google has lost ad revenue in the last quarter, as Facebook relies more on sectors that have the pandemic, like e-commerce, while Google depends on industries, like travel and hospitality, which have largely closed their doors.

Yes, but: The boycott remains a significant reputation issue for the tech giant, as it puts pressure on the company to address its hate speech loopholes.

  • During Thursday’s call for results, CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg strongly defended the company’s efforts to tackle hate speech.
  • « [S]Some seem to mistakenly assume that most of the content on our services is about politics, news, misinformation or hate, ”Zuckerberg said.
  • “These make up a small portion of the content on our services, although these are all things people usually tell us they would like to see even less. We do not profit from disinformation or hatred, ”he continued.
  • “We totally agree that we don’t want hate on our platforms, and we strongly oppose it,” Sandberg said. “We don’t benefit from hate speech. We never did. Users don’t want to see it. Advertisers don’t want to be associated with it. “

And after: Boycott organizers told Axios there was more to come with their campaign, which is starting to spread overseas, but for the most part, the boycott will not continue into August.

  • In a statement, the boycott organizers said, “This movement will not go away until Facebook makes the reasonable changes society wants. The July commercial break wasn’t a full campaign – it was a wake-up call in the Facebook arc. “

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