Facebook thwarts advertisers amid hate speech boycott on platform

Ads for more than 400 brands including Coca-Cola and Starbucks are set to disappear from Facebook today (10th, after last-minute talks to stop a boycott of hate speech on the social network failed


Facebook executives including Carolyn Everson, vice president of global business solutions, and Neil Potts, director of public policy, held at least two meetings with advertisers yesterday, the eve of the month-long boycott, three sources said. who participated in the conversations with Reuters. But the executives offered no new details on how they would address hate speech, the sources said. Instead, they pointed to recent press releases, frustrating advertisers who believe these plans don’t do enough.


“(Facebook) is just not budging,” an executive at a major advertising agency said of the talks.


F acebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg has agreed to meet with boycott organizers, a spokeswoman said yesterday. Facebook said earlier this week that it would submit to an audit of its controls on hateful content, announcing plans to place warnings on content that violates its policies, following similar practices at other social media platforms such as Twitter. A representative of a digital advertising agency who participated in yesterday’s talks said Facebook executives repeatedly referred to the audit without offering further concessions.


Facebook executives reached out to board members and chief marketing officers at major advertisers to convince them not to participate in the boycott, two people briefed on the discussions told Reuters. For Facebook, the boycott is unlikely to have a major financial impact. The top 100 brands on Facebook in 2019 likely generated just 6% of the company’s $70 billion total annual revenue, according to a Morningstar note citing data from Pathmatics, which measures types of advertising on the platform. Facebook said last year that its top 100 advertisers accounted for less than 20% of total ad revenue.


News of the boycott caused Facebook to lose $56 billion in market value after an 8% drop in its stock on Friday. But the stock rallied 3% yesterday and was up more than 2% today.  (With Reuters)