American telecommunication company Verizon Inc is the latest company to suspend advertising on the social media platform in a bid to force the company to take more action against racist and hate remarks on its social networking services.
The move makes Verizon one of the most prominent companies to join the movement, which enjoys the backing of several major American companies and is a significant blow to the tech-giant owned by Mark Zuckerberg.
“We’re pausing our advertising until Facebook can create an acceptable solution that makes us comfortable,” Reuters quotes a representative of Verizon. The publication goes further to say that Verizon took action after “the Anti-Defamation League said through a letter to advertisers on Thursday, it had found a Verizon ad on Facebook appearing next to a video containing anti-Semitic rhetoric from conspiracy group QAnon.”
Under the Stop Hate for Profit campaign, civil rights groups call for the boycott of companies seen not doing enough to tackle hate speech, racism, harassment, fear-mongering, and misinformation. This movement was triggered by the protests that were sparked by the death of George Floyd, a black man killed by Minneapolis police, events that were caught on camera.
Verizon says the suspension will last all through July “until Facebook creates an acceptable solution that makes us comfortable.” It is a blow to Facebook, which reports indicate, has made efforts to reach out to advertisers as a way of damage control.
Unilever and Coca Cola have also joined the boycott with consumer goods giant Unilever announcing that it will withdraw advertising on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter throughout the remainder of the year. Coca Cola on the other hand will pause adverts on all social media platforms for 30 days starting July 1.
At the start of the month, Facebook faced a PR crisis after their decision not to censure American president Trump, in the same way, their rival Twitter did, which prompted a backlash, including from its staff. Facebook failed to take action citing ‘freedom of expression.’ But this move, according to critics, proved their view that the company’s pursuit of profits over principle is bad for democracy.
As Reported by the Wall Street Journal, the company says it will “start labeling political speech that violates its rules and take other measures to prevent voter suppression and protect minorities from abuse.”
Facebook is reported to have lost $7 Billion due to the boycott.
The companies’ move has given a boost to the anti-hate groups to keep pushing for civilian rights in a country where racism is now more central to political dialogue. The US is also grappling with rising numbers of COVID-19 infections and deaths and is planning for an election projected to be one of the most divisive polls in recent times.
This story has been updated (June 27) to include reports on Unilever and Coca Cola joining the movement and Facebook’s reaction and a figure on how much it has lost
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