SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — Beverage giant Coca Cola has announced it was pulling millions of dollars in advertising earmarked for social media giants Facebook, Twitters and others for at least the month of July over their handing of hate speech.
Coca Cola was joining such high profile advertisers as Verizon, Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever late Friday in halting their social media campaigns as the #StopHateForProfit civil rights movement.
The beverage giant said it was halting all social media spending for at least 30 days.
“There is no place for racism in the world and no place for racism on social media,” Coca Cola CEO James Quincey wrote on his company’s website. “The Coca Cola Company will pause paid advertising on all social platforms globally for at least 30 days. We will take this time to reassess our advertising policies to determine whether revisions are needed. We also expect greater accountability and transparency from our social media partners.”
Shares of both Facebook and Twitter tumbled on Friday as the boycott gained momentum when Unilever announced it would pull its advertising from the social media companies for the rest of the year.
“Given our Responsibility Framework and the polarized atmosphere in the U.S., we have decided that starting now through at least the end of the year, we will not run brand advertising in social media newsfeed platforms Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in the U.S.,” the company said in a statement. “Continuing to advertise on these platforms at this time would not add value to people and society. We will be monitoring ongoing and will revisit our current position if necessary.”
The massive household goods company’s decision was driven by concerns over hate speech and divisive content on the platforms, it said. The Wall Street Journal was the first to report the news.
“Based on the current polarization and the election that we are having in the US, there needs to be much more enforcement in the area of hate speech,” Luis Di Como, Unilever’s executive vice president of global media, told the Journal in an interview.
Unilever’s commitment marks the broadest and potentially most damaging yet of companies that have taken a stand against Facebook. The company was the 30th-highest spender on Facebook advertising in 2019, pouring more than $42 million into the platform, according to estimates by the advertising intelligence company Pathmatics.
On Friday in attempt to slow the firestorm, Fcebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that his company would banning ads that scapegoat ethnic groups and minorities in addition to labeling potentially “harmful” posts from public figures.
Zuckerberg announced the new policy cracking down on hate speech during a Facebook Live video and in a text post.
“So today we’re prohibiting a wider category of hateful content in ads,” Zuckerberg said in his post. “Specifically, we’re expanding our ads policy to prohibit claims that people from a specific race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, caste, sexual orientation, gender identity or immigration status are a threat to the physical safety, health or survival of others.”
Zuckerberg said Facebook would also be “expanding our policies to better protect immigrants, migrants, refugees and asylum seekers from ads suggesting these groups are inferior or expressing contempt, dismissal or disgust directed at them.”