Microsoft, Ford, Pepsi Join Facebook, Instagram Ad Boycott

Mark Zuckerberg - Getty - H 2020
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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Almost 250 companies have signed up to the #StopHateForProfit campaign that is pushing for the social media giant to tackle hate speech and misinformation on its platforms.

American corporate giants Ford, Pepsi and Microsoft are the latest blue-chip companies to join the growing advertising boycott of Facebook and its subsidiary Instagram over its failure to deal with hate speech and misinformation on its platform.

“We are pausing all national social media advertising for the next 30 days to re-evaluate our presence on these platforms,” Ford said in a statement to Ad Age. “The existence of content that includes hate speech, violence and racial injustice on social platforms needs to be eradicated. We are actively engaged with industry initiatives led by the Association of National Advertisers to drive more accountability, transparency and trusted measurement to clean up the digital and social media ecosystem.”

Ad Age reports that Ford spent $2.9 million on advertising with Facebook, year to date, but only $57,000 the past 30 days, according to data analytics firm Pathmatics. 

Fox Business reported that food and beverage conglomerate Pepsico, the parent company of Pepsi, Gatorade and Mountain Dew, had "quietly" joined the Facebook, Instagram boycott with no official announcement on a policy that will see the company pause advertising on social media in July and August globally. 

On Monday, it was revealed that tech giant Microsoft had suspended Facebook ads back in May, well before the organized boycotts were launched. Axios reports that Microsoft's pause on Facebook ads was out of a concern about where its ads are shown, rather than Facebook's policies, but that the company has recently expanded that suspension globally. 

On June 17, a group that included the Anti-Defamation League, the NAACP, Sleeping Giants, Color of Change, Free Press and Common Sense launched the #StopHateForProfit social media campaign that called on companies to suspend advertising on Facebook and its subsidiary Instagram for the month of July.

Since the launch of the campaign almost 250 companies have committed to pausing their advertising on Facebook, Instagram and in some case on Twitter and other social media platforms. Outdoor clothing firms Patagonia, The North Face and Arc'teryx, outdoor equipment company REI, tech companies Dashlane and Upwork were the first to say they will join the boycott. In the last week, Adidas, Starbucks, Diageo, Vans, Levi's, Ben & Jerry's, HP, Magnolia Pictures, Hershey's, Blue Bottle Coffee, Pfizer, Mozilla, Verizon, Coca-Cola, Honda and Unilever are among the big names to have joined the boycott.

Facebook has faced fierce criticism, externally and internally, in recent months for the misinformation and racist content spread on its platform, and in particular posts from President Donald Trump that have been widely condemned as dangerous or inciting violence. The company's CEO Mark Zuckerberg has remained firm that Facebook will not regulate online speech. "I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn't be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online," Zuckerberg said in an interview with Fox News last month. "Private companies probably shouldn't be, especially these platform companies, shouldn't be in the position of doing that."

Last Friday, as the ad boycott started to gain momentum, Facebook said that it will flag all "newsworthy" posts from politicians and political groups that break its rules, including those from Trump as well as banning posts that discourage voting with false claims.