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Patagonia becomes latest company to pull ads from Facebook

Patagonia becomes latest company to pull ads from Facebook
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Patagonia announced Sunday that it is pulling its ads from Facebook, becoming the latest company to join an advertising boycott demanding the tech giant take greater steps to police incendiary speech on the platform.

A band of civil rights groups last week launched the #StopHateForProfit campaign in response to what it called “Facebook’s long history of allowing racist, violent and verifiably false content to run rampant on its platform.” The groups said that a cease in advertising spending by corporations could send a “powerful message.”

Cory Bayers, the head of marketing at Patagonia, said in a series of tweets that the decision to join the boycott stemmed from Facebook’s failure to take sufficient steps “to stop the spread of hateful lies and dangerous propaganda on its platform.” The outdoor apparel company said that its ad boycott would apply to Facebook and Instagram and that it would proceed until at least the end of July, “pending meaningful action from the social media giant.”

The move came just two days after NorthFace and REI announced that they were suspending advertising spending with Facebook. Upwork, a global freelancing platform, also announced Friday that it was "hitting pause" on its Facebook advertising. All four of the companies attached the hashtag #StopHateForProfit to their announcements. 

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"From secure elections to a global pandemic to racial justice, the stakes are too high to sit back and let the company continue to be complicit in spreading disinformation and fomenting fear and hatred," Bayers said. "We stand with #StopHateforProfit in saying Facebook’s ‘profits will never be worth promoting hate, bigotry, racism, antisemitism, and violence."

Carolyn Everson, vice president of Facebook's global business group, told The Hill in a statement that "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," Everson added. 

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The ad boycott comes as Facebook faces escalating criticism inside and outside the company over its moderation of content. A group of Facebook employees earlier this month staged a virtual walkout to protest the company's decision to leave up some of President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden adds to vote margin over Trump after Milwaukee County recount Krebs says allegations of foreign interference in 2020 election 'farcical'  Republicans ready to become deficit hawks again under a President Biden MORE's inflammatory posts, including one about demonstrations in response to the May 25 police killing of George Floyd. 

The leaders of the Civil and Human Rights, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and Color of Change also denounced Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergDemocrats urge YouTube to remove election misinformation, step up efforts ahead of Georgia runoff Democrats press Facebook, Twitter on misinformation efforts ahead of Georgia runoff Hillicon Valley: Facebook content moderators demand more workplace protections | Ousted cyber official blasts Giuliani press conference | Tech firms fall short on misinformation targeting Latino vote MORE and COO Sheryl Sandberg after a phone conversation with them about the posts. 

"[Zuckerberg] did not demonstrate understanding of historic or modern-day voter suppression and he refuses to acknowledge how Facebook is facilitating Trump's call for violence against protesters," they said in a joint statement. 

Those groups, as well as Sleeping Giants and the Anti-Defamation League, launched the ad boycott campaign with an advertisement in the Los Angeles Times on June 17. 

Facebook policy chief  Nick Clegg told reporters after the campaign's launch that the company “emphatically stands against hate speech," pointing to the 10 million hateful posts it removed last quarter. Facebook on Thursday removed several Trump campaign ads featuring a symbol used by Nazis to designate political prisoners.

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Facebook generates about 98 percent of its revenue through advertising. 

The company earned about $29.9 billion in ad revenue in 2019, which represented a 26 percent increase from the previous year, according to CNBC. The company is expected to see its ad revenue grow by about 5 percent this year, despite the economic hit caused by the coronavirus outbreak, eMarketer predicted. 

UPDATED 11:12 a.m.