Getty Images image rights
Two leading UK companies – the insurance company Aviva and the Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) – have become the latest to “pause” advertising on Facebook.
They join Ford, Adidas, HP, Coca Cola, Unilever and Starbucks, which acted in response to the way the social network deals with hate speech.
The Stop Hate for Profit campaign claims that Facebook is not doing enough to remove hateful content.
Facebook said it wants to be a force for good.
Before the latest developments, the British director of the technology company, Steve Hatch, told the BBC that “there was no profit on hateful content”.
In a statement to the BBC, Aviva said: “We regularly review which social media platforms we use and take advantage of this moment to pause and reevaluate Aviva’s use of Facebook for advertising in the UK”.
IHG added that it recently made the decision to suspend advertising “via Facebook globally”, but did not provide additional context. The Buckinghamshire-based company operates under the Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza and Kimpton brands, among others.
‘I hate the world’
More than 100 brands worldwide have paused advertising on Facebook in response to the Stop Hate for Profit campaign’s call for a boycott. Some have also suspended ads from other social media.
Speaking on BBC Today’s Radio 4 Today, Hatch defended the Facebook record in the hate speech.
“Our systems now remove 90% and detect 90% of that hate speech automatically. And now this is not perfect, but we know it has gone up from 23% two years ago,” he said.
“As much as we do our best, and there is always more that we can do and that we will do – when there is hate in the world, there will also be hate on Facebook.
“The way our systems work is to provide people with content that is more frequent in millions and millions of cases, pleasant and safe, and also to allow people to have an argument.”
Facebook has been under increasing fire since it decided not to remove a post from U.S. President Donald Trump, written in response to protests in the U.S. over the death of George Floyd.
A comment made by the president – “when the looting begins, the shooting begins” – was considered glorified by the violence and labeled as such by the rival Twitter, but remained on Facebook.
Hatch said, “The debates we see on these topics are extremely challenging and can be very, very wide.”
But Facebook’s inaction made many angry and started the Stop Hate for Profit campaign, which wants big brands to boycott the social network during July.
Media playback is not supported on your device
Patagonian chief tells Dominic O’Connell why they pulled ads from Facebook platforms
Some advertisers stopped spending on social media on Facebook only that month, while others plan longer periods.
On Friday, Facebook’s stock price fell 8%. In response, he said he will begin labeling potentially harmful posts.
World Federation of Advertisers research suggests that others are likely to follow suit and that other platforms, such as Twitter and Snapchat, may also be included.
Its chief executive told the Financial Times that it looked like “a turning point”.
By James Clayton, North American technology reporter
By far, the most notable British company to join the boycott so far has been Unilever. But Unilever has a huge presence in the US – it owns Ben and Jerry’s, for example.
Aviva does not. This is a very British boycott, it affects only the UK.
Facebook is concerned about the spread of this boycott to the rest of the world.
On Monday, Stop Hate for Profit – the organization that led the campaign in the U.S. – announced that it wanted to take the global campaign.
And this is an example of this, a British company that has stopped using Facebook in Britain.
How much will this worry Facebook? Well, each company that joins the boycott gradually decreases the company’s ad revenue.
However, Facebook or Instagram are not thought to constitute a large proportion of Aviva’s ad spend, with larger TV and print.