Ben & Jerry’s is latest company to join Facebook advertising boycott

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Ben & Jerry’s on Tuesday became the latest major company to join an advertising boycott of Facebook, saying that it stands with all of those calling for the tech giant to take greater steps to police abusive content on the platform.

The ice cream brand said in a statement that its ad boycott would begin on July 1 and also apply to Instagram, the photo-sharing app owned by Facebook.

“Ben & Jerry’s stands with our friends at the NAACP and Color of Change, the ADL, and all those calling for Facebook to take stronger action to stop its platforms from being used to divide our nation, suppress voters, foment and fan the flames of racism and violence, and undermine our democracy,” the company said. 

“Facebook, Inc. must take the clear and unequivocal actions to stop its platform from being used to spread and amplify racism and hate,” it added.

The move comes as Facebook faces growing criticism inside and outside the company over how it addresses incendiary posts on the platform. A coalition of civil rights groups last week launched the “#StopHateForProfit” campaign as part of an effort to get corporations to cease their ad spending on the platform until Facebook changes its policies. 

Since the campaign’s announcement, at least a dozen companies have said they would pull their advertising from Facebook and Instagram. Outdoor apparel brands North Face, REI and Patagonia were among the first organizations to join the boycott. 

Upwork, a global freelancing platform, web browsing company Mozilla and progressive digital consultancy firm Blue State have also announced that they will pull ads from Facebook. 

Carolyn Everson, vice president of Facebook’s global business group, told The Hill in a statement on Monday 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. 

Facebook has faced continual scrutiny over its moderation of misinformation and dangerous content. But its policies have been subject to increasing backlash in recent weeks over the company’s refusal to take action on posts from President Trump.

A group of Facebook employees earlier this month staged a virtual walkout to protest the company’s decision to leave up some of the president’s inflammatory posts, including one about demonstrations in response to the May 25 police killing of George Floyd. Some civil rights leaders also denounced CEO Mark Zuckerberg following a phone conversation with him about the platform’s moderation of content.

A coalition of groups, including the NAACP, the Anti-Defamation League and Color of Change, launched the ad boycott campaign on June 17, calling it a response to “Facebook’s long history of allowing racist, violent and verifiably false content to run rampant on its platform.”

Ben & Jerry’s CEO Matthew McCarthy said Monday that Facebook’s policies on toxic content did not align with the ice cream brand’s values. But he said that an ad boycott would not be enough. 

“What we want to do is to try to make ourselves right at Ben & Jerry’s. We always aspire to do the right thing. And we want our partners to do the same thing,” he said while speaking at the CMO Summit, according to The Wall Street Journal. “So to me, it’s not just about signing on to boycott, which certainly we may do. It’s about what are the actions that we’d like to see happen so that we can collaborate with partners who want to progress the change that we support.”

Facebook generated roughly $70 billion in advertising revenue in 2019, which represented a 26 percent increase from the previous year. EMarketer on Monday predicted that the company would see its ad revenue grow by about 5 percent this year, CNBC reported.

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