Some of the nation’s most iconic brands – Coca-Cola, The Hershey Company and the Levi Strauss & Co. – are among the latest in pledging to halt advertising on Facebook as part of a growing boycott organized by civil rights groups to condemn the social media company’s failure to remove hate speech.
Despite Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg outlining several steps the social network will take to combat hate speech ahead of the 2020 presidential election Friday, the companies joined Unilever, Honda, Verizon and others in the protest.
The #StopHateforProfit campaign – launched June 17 by civil rights groups including the NAACP, Color of Change and the Anti-Defamation League – comes as corporate America grapples with racial inequality following the death of George Floyd in police custody.
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Jen Sey, chief marketing officer of Levi’s, said in a statement late Friday the company was pausing all paid Facebook and Instagram advertising globally at least through the end of July across all of its brands. “When we re-engage will depend on Facebook’s response,” Sey said.
The ad boycott on Facebook focuses on advertising for the month of July and also includes Eddie Bauer and Ben & Jerry’s. The North Face was the first major brand to announce it was halting advertising and said its boycott would continue until Facebook puts in place stricter policies to stem the flow of hate speech on Facebook and Instagram.
Patagonia, REI, Mozilla and Upwork in addition to about 100 smaller companies also have said they are committed.
Nearly all of the social media company’s revenue comes from advertising on Facebook and Instagram. Shares of Facebook dropped more than 8% on Friday.
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Unilever, which owns brands including Dove and Hellman’s, is halting ads on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram through at least the end of the year, noting in a statement that advertising “would not add value to people and society.”
Facebook’s planned steps include pushing back against voter suppression, boosting standards for hateful content in ads and labeling content deemed newsworthy.
“I’m optimistic that we can make progress on public health and racial justice while maintaining our democratic traditions around free expression and voting,” Zuckerberg said. “I’m committed to making sure Facebook is a force for good on this journey.”
Facebook boycott list
The following companies have announced they are participating in the protest. Go to the campaign’s website www.stophateforprofit.org to find additional companies or search #StopHateForProfit.
Contributing: Jessica Guynn, Brett Molina, Josh Peter
Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko
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