Facebook and Twitter are paying the price for hatred
Shares of both Facebook and Twitter were down more than 7% in mid-day trading Friday after Unilever said it would pull its advertising from the social media companies for the rest of the year.
"Given our Responsibility Framework and the polarized atmosphere in the U.S., we have decided that starting now through at least the end of the year, we will not run brand advertising in social media newsfeed platforms Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in the U.S.," the company said in a statement.
"Continuing to advertise on these platforms at this time would not add value to people and society. We will be monitoring ongoing and will revisit our current position if necessary."
The massive household goods company's decision was driven by concerns over hate speech and divisive content on the platforms, it said. The Wall Street Journal was the first to report the news.
"Based on the current polarization and the election that we are having in the US, there needs to be much more enforcement in the area of hate speech," Luis Di Como, Unilever's executive vice president of global media, told the Journal in an interview.
Unilever's commitment marks the broadest and potentially most damaging yet of companies that have taken a stand against Facebook. The company was the 30th-highest spender on Facebook advertising in 2019, pouring more than $42 million into the platform, according to estimates by the advertising intelligence company Pathmatics.
Most other brands that have announced boycotts of Facebook have said they will suspend advertising for the month of July, or "at least" through the end of July.
Not long after Unilever's announcement, Procter & Gamble — another of the world's biggest advertisers — reportedly said it would pull advertising from platforms that hosted "hateful" or "discriminatory" content.
In a statement, Twitter's VP of global client solutions, Sarah Personette, said the company is committed to building a safe platform that also amplifies "voices from underrepresented communities and marginalized groups."
"We are respectful of our partners' decisions and will continue to work and communicate closely with them during this time," Personette said.
The US justice department filed a lawsuit against Google on Tuesday, accusing the tech company of abusing its position to maintain an illegal monopoly over search and search advertising.
Facebook has removed hundreds of fake profiles it has linked to the conservative group Turning Point USA for carrying out organized attacks on the site, including attempts to influence public conversations by flooding news articles with pro-Trump comments and misinformation.
Facebook is banning all pages, groups, and accounts associated with QAnon, the company announced on Tuesday, in the most significant action taken against the mass delusion that has seeped into the highest level of American politics. “Starting today, we will remove Facebook Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts representing QAnon,” the company said in a press release. “We’re starting to enforce this updated policy today and are removing content accordingly, but this work will take time and will continue in the coming days and weeks.”
Facebook is taking steps to hide content from groups affiliated with QAnon, a conspiracy theory that revolves around President Trump fighting a deep state that includes a secret global cabal of pedophiles. The company announced in a blog post on Thursday that it will ban all advertising that expresses "praise, support or represent militarized social movements and QAnon."