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Companies Pull Facebook, Instagram Ads in #StopHateforProfit Boycott

FILE - A 3D-printed Facebook logo is seen placed on a keyboard in this illustration taken March 25, 2020.

Outdoor clothing giant Patagonia announced it would pause all advertisements on Facebook and Facebook-owned Instagram for at least the month of July, joining a growing ad boycott led by civil rights organizations.

“For too long, Facebook has failed to take sufficient steps to stop the spread of hateful lies and dangerous propaganda on its platform,” said a statement released Sunday evening by Cory Bayers, head of marketing at Patagonia. “We can’t stand by and contribute resources to companies that contribute to the problem.”

The North Face and outdoor gear retail co-op REI are other prominent boycott supporters.

Last week, Facebook refused to mark posts by U.S. President Donald Trump as misleading or inciting violence. It stands in contrast to Twitter, which marked several tweets with fact-check and warning labels for the first time.

FILE - Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies at a House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington, October 23, 2019.
FILE - Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies at a House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington, October 23, 2019.

While Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said that the posts did not violate the social media giant’s rules against inciting violence, civil rights activists say the controversy is emblematic of how Facebook provides a platform for racist rhetoric.

Now, the company is facing widespread backlash, including from its own employees. Some have spoken out against company policy online, staged a virtual walkout and even resigned.

Facebook has come under fire in the past for failing to curb online abuse and election disinformation, and to protect user data.

Civil rights groups including Color of Change, the NAACP and the Anti-Defamation League launched the “Stop hate for profit” campaign on June 17, asking advertisers to pause promotions on all Facebook-owned platforms through the month of July.

The boycott stems from a worldwide movement against racism and police brutality, sparked by the death of George Floyd last month in Minneapolis while he was in police custody.

Advertising accounted for more than 98% of Facebook’s $17.74 billion in global revenue in the first quarter of 2020. Ad revenue growth has slowed, however, in part because of the pandemic-inflicted cash crunch many advertisers have faced, and because of Facebook’s own attempts to increase user data privacy.

In a statement to CNN Business, Carolyn Everson, vice president of Facebook’s Global Business Group, said, "We deeply respect any brand's decision and remain focused on the important work of removing hate speech and providing critical voting information. Our conversations with marketers and civil rights organizations are about how, together, we can be a force for good."

Freelancing platform Upwork also joined the boycott, and Hypebeast, a men’s fashion publication, reported Sunday that brands including Vans and Timberland are considering joining.