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Facebook Boycott Gains Momentum

Image via Prateek Katyal on Unsplash

Social media companies have fought criticism of the content on their sites for as long as they've been around.

With tensions high as a result of the protests sweeping across the U.S., Facebook has found itself in a situation where its moderation of content is now directly costing the company business.

Yesterday, Ben & Jerry's announced it would halt all paid advertising on Facebook and Instagram in the U.S. starting on July 1. Ben & Jerry's joins a slew of other companies such as Patagonia, The North Face, Eddie Bauer, REI and Upwork that are boycotting advertising on Facebook.

In announcing its boycott, Ben & Jerry's subsequently voiced its support for the Stop Hate for Profit campaign. The campaign is a joint effort by a number of organizations including the Anti-Defamation League and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

The campaign's website reads "We are asking all businesses to stand in solidarity with our most deeply held American values of freedom, equality and justice and not advertise on Facebook's services in July."

Stop Hate for Profit is hoping to hit Facebook where it hurts, pointing out on its website that "99% of Facebook’s $70 billion is made through advertising." According to the campaign, the call to boycott Facebook is a result of "Facebook's long history of allowing racist, violent and verifiably false content to run rampant on its platform."

Stop Hate for Profit has a list of product recommendations for Facebook to address hate online. The recommendations include providing support for those who are targets of racism, antisemitism and hate, stop generating ad revenue from misinformation and harmful content, and increase safety in private groups on Facebook.

It's not just Stop Hate for Profit urging brands to boycott advertising on Facebook. Ad agencies such as 360i and IPG Mediabrands are also encouraging their clients to boycott Facebook. Elijah Harris, senior vice president of paid social at IPG Mediabrands said it's "time to hold Facebook's leadership team accountable … Let’s use our collective strength to bring them to task."

Facebook, aware of the implications of brands ditching advertising en masse, posted a statement over the weekend detailing the actions they're taking to improve their platforms.

"Our apps were built to give people a voice. Every day, people come together to learn, organize and inspire others on critical issues," Facebook said. "We believe that building an inclusive society depends upon people being able to share their diverse perspectives."

With shares of Facebook trading just off of their all-time highs, the company is likely eager to find a solution to this growing boycott sooner rather than later.

Leftover Crumbs

  • IMF slashes economic forecast. The International Monetary Fund now expects a 4.9% decline in global GDP this year, compared to a 3% decline it predicted in April. The IMF slashed its forecast for the U.S. to an 8% decline in GDP from a 5.9% decline in April. "The Covid-19 pandemic has had a more negative impact on activity in the first half of 2020 than anticipated, and the recovery is projected to be more gradual than previously forecast," the IMF said. The IMF is predicting global debt as a percent of GDP to hit a record 101.5% this year and 103.2% in 2021.

  • Disney employees start petition. Employees at Walt Disney World have started an online petition asking state officials to reconsider opening the theme park next month. More than 7,000 employees have signed the petition so far. "This virus is not gone, unfortunately it’s only become worse in this state," the petition says. "Having our theme parks remain closed until cases are steadily decreasing would keep our guests, our employees and their families safe."

  • GNC files for bankruptcy. GNC is the latest company to succumb to the coronavirus outbreak, as it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. GNC, which has a total of 7,300 locations, intends to close between 800 to 1,200 locations. GNC said it has secured $130 million in new financing and hopes to sell itself for $760 million in a court-supervised auction. GNC said business operations will continue and that it hopes to come out of bankruptcy by the fall.

  • U.S. weighs more tariffs. The Office of the United States Trade Representative is considering imposing $3.1 billion in additional tariffs on goods from the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Spain. The goods under consideration include olives, coffee, chocolate, beer, gin, and some trucks and machinery. The duties would be up to 100% in some instances. The proposed tariffs were opened to public comment and will last through July 26.

  • Wall Street bonuses may not be as bad. Compensation consultant Johnson Associates predicts that financial services pay will fall between 15% and 20% this year, compared to a 30% decline predicted in May. "We’ve dug halfway out of the hole," the report's author Alan Johnson said. "But that said, after a pandemic and the social unrest, it’s going to be an emotion-filled end of the year." Johnson predicts a wave of layoffs will hit the financial services sector, with retail and investment bankers hit particularly hard.