June 28, 2020

Facebook boycott continues; Coca-Cola pausing all social media ads from July 1

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Demanding “greater accountability and transparency”, beverage giant Coca-Cola has decided to suspend advertising on social media all over the world for at least a month starting July 1. Coca-Cola is believed to be among over 90 companies that have stopped online ads in support of the #StopHateforProfit campaign against social media companies, including Facebook.

“There is no place for racism in the world and there is no place for racism on social media,” James Quincey, the company chairman and CEO said, reported BBC News.

Quincey, however, clarified the company was not stopping the ads due to the campaign but to reassess its ad policies to see if the revision was needed.

The decision by Coca-Cola comes days after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced some policy changes ahead of the 2020 elections in the United States. He said that the company would soon start labelling some of the content left up because as is deemed newsworthy, so people can know when this is the case.

Also read: Facebook, Twitter shares plunge after Unilever decides to pull down ads

Zuckerberg said: “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. We’re also 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.”

Despite these efforts by Facebook to contain hate speech on its platforms, several organisers of #StophareforProfit campaign have termed them “smaller changes”, which they claim would not make much difference.

Meanwhile, shares of Facebook tanked 8.3 per cent on Friday, evaporating $56bn from the company’s market value and about $7.2 bn off of Zuckerberg’s personal net worth, Bloomberg reported.

Before Coca-Cola, clothes manufacturer Levi Strauss & Co also decided to stop ads on Facebook and accused the giant of not doing “enough”. Its CMO Jen Say was quoted by BBC News as saying that while the company appreciates that Facebook announced some steps in this direction today, it’s simply not enough.

European consumer-product maker Unilever has also decided to halt US advertising on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram through at least the end of the year. The company said it took the move to protest the amount of hate speech online. Unilever said the polarized atmosphere in the United States ahead of November’s presidential election placed responsibility on brands to act, Associated Press reported.

Those behind the #StopHateforProfit campaign say Facebook has apologised in the past too, promised to concrete steps but nothing happened except “meagre” steps. They have urged Zuckerberg to set up permanent civil rights infrastructure in the company, which includes making public “identity-based hate” and removing certain groups that spread hate on social media.

The Coca-Cola Company is a total beverage company, offering over 500 brands in more than 200 countries and territories. In addition to the company’s Coca-Cola brand, its portfolio includes AdeS, Ayataka, Costa, Dasani, Del Valle, Fanta, Georgia, among others.

Also read: How to lock your Facebook profile? All you need to know

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