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Vancouver business calls for others to join Facebook boycott over spread of hateful content

Citynews 1130 Vancouver

Last Updated Jun 30, 2020 at 10:04 am PDT

FILE - This March 29, 2018, file photo shows the Facebook logo on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York's Times Square. Facebook has removed nearly 200 social media accounts linked to white supremacy groups that planned to encourage members to attend protests over police killings of black people - in some cases with weapons, company officials said Friday, June 5, 2020. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
Summary

A small business owner from Vancouver is joining the Stop Hate For Profit campaign to pull paid advertsing from Facebook

The campaign started over Facebook's refusal to deal with the spread of hateful content on its platform

Vancouver's Finch Media says more pressure can be applied if smaller, local businesses band together

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — A small business owner from Vancouver is joining the Stop Hate For Profit campaign to pull paid advertising from Facebook and is encouraging others to get involved.

Numerous Canadian companies are joining a growing list of top international brands vowing not to advertise on Facebook in July because of the company’s refusal to deal with the spread of hateful content on its platform.

“The majority of Facebook ad revenues come from small business,” said Kylie McMullan, owner of Vancouver’s Finch Media.

“As small business owners,” she added, “we have a lot of power to put pressure on Facebook, probably more than the big brands.”

She said more pressure can be applied if smaller, local businesses band together.

“There is strength in numbers and I think we’ll have a bigger voice, and we’ll be able to better collectively affect change if we all stand together on this.”

 

The Stop Hate For Profit movement calls for Facebook to crack down on posts promoting hate speech, racism, as well as posts that share false information.

Vancouver athletic wear companies Lululemon Athletica Inc., Mountain Equipment Co-op and Arc’teryx, along with New Brunswick-based Moosehead Breweries are among those pulling their paid ads from Facebook and joining the boycott, which has support from Coca-Cola, Unilever, Honda America, and Patagonia.

“You can have your ads placed next to hateful comments that you would never support and that would never be aligned with your values,” McMullan said.

“So the Stop Hate For Profit campaign is really asking Facebook to become more accountable for things like audits.”

She said the Black Lives Matter protests have played a big part in her decision to pull ads from the social media giant.

“I think a lot of us think that we need to do better in terms of being good allies and being advocates, and pressuring online platforms to stop spreading hate and misinformation,” McMullan said.

Champions of the Stop Hate For Profit boycott — led by civil rights and advocacy groups, including the Anti-Defamation League and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People — say Facebook has not done enough to keep racist, false and dangerous content or white supremacists off its platform.

They are also disappointed that the company has allowed users to call for violence against protesters fighting for racial justice in the wake of the deaths of several Black Americans.

MEC’s boycott came into effect on June 25, when it pulled its organic content and paid ads from Facebook and Instagram until the end of July.

The company said it wants to raise “awareness of the harmful, racist content and misinformation that is shared on these social platforms.”

“We ask that Facebook strengthen their content-moderation policies and enforce them consistently,” MEC said in a statement emailed to The Canadian Press.

Lululemon, meanwhile, tweeted its support for Stop Hate For Profit on Saturday, saying, “We believe we all have a responsibility to create a truly inclusive society and are actively engaging with Facebook to seek meaningful change.”

In its tweets supporting the boycott, Arc’teryx said Facebook profits “will never be worth promoting hate, bigotry, racism, anti-Semitism, and violence.”

Moosehead, which is behind the Moosehead Lager, Cracked Canoe, Alpine Lager, and Hop City brands, joined the pledge on Monday and said it will stop advertising on both Facebook and Instagram.

“As a brewer, we talk a lot about the Canadian values that define us: boldness, independence, strength of character, but also openness, inclusivity, and warmth,” Trevor Grant, Moosehead’s vice president of marketing and sales, says in a statement.

“More needs to be done to protect those values on the world’s biggest social platforms, and to end hate speech online, and we stand in support of this much-needed change.”

 

Facebook, which is based in Menlo Park, Calif. and also owns Instagram and WhatsApp, said in a statement that it invests billions of dollars each year to keep its community safe and continuously works with outside experts to review and update its policies.

The company said it has opened itself up to a civil rights audit and banned 250 white supremacist organizations from Facebook and Instagram.

“The investments we have made in artificial intelligence mean that we find nearly 90 per cent of hate speech we action before users report it to us, while a recent European report found Facebook assessed more hate speech reports in 24 hours than Twitter and YouTube,” the company said in an email.

“We know we have more work to do, and we’ll continue to work with civil rights groups, Global Alliance for Responsible Media, and other experts to develop even more tools, technology and policies to continue this fight.”

Ad revenues generated almost US $69.66 billion for Facebook last year and is the company’s biggest moneymaker, according to research firm Statista.

While Facebook is a valuable tool for companies searching for eyeballs and customers willing to dip into their wallets, the boycott hurts the social media company more than the brands edging away from it, said Joanne McNeish, an associate professor of marketing at Ryerson University.

Many brands are not as reliant on Facebook as they once were because they have realized Instagram is more valuable for attracting younger customers and because Facebook has lost some of its more targeted advertising abilities after the data of up to 50 million Facebook users was misused by analytics firm Cambridge Analytica.

“Advertisers have various platforms that they have available, depending on the target group the company is looking for,” said McNeish. “They’re only boycotting Facebook, and that’s a very traditional way of doing a boycott in that you attack the market leader.”