Starbucks becomes latest company to pause advertising on all social media platforms


Starbucks on Sunday announced that it would pause all of its advertising on social media platforms, becoming the latest company to take the step as part of an effort curb the presence of hate speech online.

“We believe in bringing communities together, both in person and online, and we stand against hate speech,” Starbucks said in a statement. “We believe more must be done to create welcoming and inclusive online communities, and we believe both business leaders and policy makers need to come together to affect real change.”

“We will pause advertising on all social media platforms while we continue discussions internally, with our media partners and with civil rights organizations in the effort to stop the spread of hate speech,” the company added.

The coffeehouse chain did not give any indication of what would need to take place for it to resume advertising on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

A Starbucks spokesperson also told The Hill that the move was not in connection to the “#StopHateForProfit” campaign, a movement started by a coalition of civil rights groups calling on corporations to cease advertising on Facebook until it changes its content moderation polices.

The campaign, which launched earlier this month, led to a rapid succession of companies announcing their intention to boycott advertising on Facebook in July. Outdoor apparel brands Patagonia and North Face, as well telecom giant Verizon, Coca-Cola and Ben & Jerry’s are among the major companies to join the boycott. As of Sunday, more than 150 businesses had pledged to pull their Facebook ads. 

“We will pause all paid advertising on Facebook and Instagram in the US in support of the #StopHateForProfit campaign,” Ben & Jerry’s said in a statement on June 23. “Facebook, Inc. must take the clear and unequivocal actions to stop its platform from being used to spread and amplify racism and hate.”

In addition to Starbucks, some companies have announced moves to pull advertising from other platforms in addition to Facebook. Coca-Cola said its boycott would apply to all social media platforms for at least 30 days and consumer goods giant Unilever said it would pull ads on Facebook and Twitter for the rest of the year.

Facebook shares fell about 8 percent on Friday after Unilever, one of the world’s largest advertisers, announced the decision, according to Bloomberg News.

The boycott comes as Facebook faces escalating criticism inside and outside the company over its policies on misinformation and incendiary speech shared on the platform. A coalition of civil rights groups, including Color of Change and the Anti-Defamation League, said that the boycott campaign was started as a response to the social media giant’s “long history of allowing racist, violent and verifiably false content to run rampant on its platform.”

Carolyn Everson, vice president of Facebook’s global business group, told The Hill in a statement last week 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 generated roughly $70 billion in advertising revenue in 2019, which represented a 26 percent increase from the previous year. The company makes generates roughly 98 percent of its total revenue from advertising. EMarketer has predicted that the company would see its ad revenue grow by about 5 percent this year, CNBC reported.

Tags Ben & Jerry Coca-Cola Facebook Inc. Hate speech online advertising Starbucks Unilever Verizon
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