Earlier this week, we discussed the Stop Hate For Profit campaign, in which consumers and groups like the NAACP and Anti-Defamation League have applied pressure on companies about boycotting Facebook. Facebook has been problematic as hell for years, and the activities of neo-Nazis, Russians and conservatives on Facebook absolutely helped Donald Trump get elected in 2016. Facebook’s problems are bigger than Trump, and they go to the heart of what constitutes free speech and what constitutes hate speech. Anyway, we discussed the Stop Hate For Profit campaign through the prism of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, because they were reportedly involved in the campaign. In a NY Times report yesterday, the Sussexes’ involvement in the campaign is put into the context of the larger movement. Everything changed for Facebook within a week – it was just eight days ago that Mark Zuckerberg was telling advertisers that he wouldn’t ban Nazis and Russian propaganda farms from his platform. Now 300 companies have pulled their ads.
The company’s executives continued the campaign on Tuesday morning with another video meeting with advertisers, followed by separate sessions with ad holding companies. At the meeting, Facebook’s marketing chief, Carolyn Everson, public policy director, Neil Potts, and vice president for integrity, Guy Rosen, took a more conciliatory tone, acknowledging clients’ concerns about ads appearing next to hate speech and misinformation, said four people with knowledge of the event.
Yet even as Facebook has labored to stanch the ad exodus, it is having little effect. Executives at ad agencies said that more of their clients were weighing whether to join the boycott, which now numbers more than 300 advertisers and is expected to grow. Pressure on top advertisers is coming from politicians, supermodels, actors and even Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, they said. Internally, some Facebook employees said they were also using the boycott to push for change.
…Advertisers began taking action against Facebook’s handling of hate speech about two weeks ago while facing pressure from the Anti-Defamation League, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Color of Change and other civil rights groups. On June 19, the North Face and REI were among the first brands to join a boycott.
High-profile allies quickly joined in. Roughly 10 days ago, representatives for Prince Harry and Meghan reached out to the head of the Anti-Defamation League to ask how they could support the movement, according to two people with knowledge of the situation. The couple called C.E.O.s at some of Facebook’s biggest ad buyers and implored them to stop their ad purchases, they said.
This is for me, because I was curious about when Meghan and Harry did something and what they actually did (and my curiosity was read as somehow being “shady” but whatever). Now I know! Harry and Meghan got involved with the campaign just days after the organizing began, and they’ve been calling CEOs more than a week.
The Times also points out something I was also curious about, which is that the pandemic economy has meant that most companies with ad budgets are being choosier in general about how and where they spend their advertising dollars. Many of the companies pulling their Facebook ads have already seen their ad budgets decimated. Some companies are merely pulling their ads from Facebook for the month of July (which was part of the first wave of boycott plans). And other companies (like Starbucks) are simply not advertising on any social media platforms for a while. Still, despite the lack of uniformity with the “boycott,” I’m glad this is happening and I’m glad Harry and Meghan are a part of it.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.