Facebook has recently come under scrutiny regarding their hands-off approach to inflammatory posts in particular by political parties, civil rights groups and Facebook employees. Mark Zuckerberg has strongly taken a stance that users should be able to see what politicians say despite its offensive nature. Additionally, Zuckerberg has criticized Twitter’s decision to place labels on the President’s tweets.

This recent stance, along with other long-standing issues with how political ads, political disinformation and hate speech has been handled on the platform, has brought several groups and advertisers to demand action by the social platform.

Recently, the Anti-Defamation League has started the “Stop Hate for Profit” campaign to gain support and momentum for businesses to stand in solidarity in holding social media companies accountable and stop advertising on Facebook for the month of July. From this campaign spawned the trending hashtag #FacebookBoycott

Anti-Defamation League’s concern

ADL claims Facebook fails to prevent the spread of disinformation and hate speech.

  • “Every day, we see ads from companies placed adjacent to hateful content, occupying the same space as extremist recruitment groups and harmful disinformation campaigns. Your ad buying dollars are being used by the platform to increase its dominance in the industry at the expense of vulnerable and marginalized communities who are often targets of hate groups on Facebook.”

ADL posted a series of screenshots showing brands' ads appearing next to potentially offensive imagery on Facebook.

Anti-Defamation league’s requests for Facebook

Provide more support to people who are targets of racism, Anti-Semitism and hate.

  • Create a separate moderation pipeline for users who express that they have been targeted because of specific identity characteristics such as race or religion. This pipeline must include experts on various forms of identity-based hate.
  • Create a threshold of harm on the platform where they will put a target of hate and harassment in touch with a live Facebook employee to help them address their concerns.
  • Release data from their existing reporting form around identity-based hate.

Stop generating ad revenue from misinformation and harmful content.

  • Create internal mechanisms (for every media format on every Facebook platform) that automatically remove all ads from content labeled as misinformation or hate.
  • Change the advertising portal on all Facebook products to tell advertisers how often their ads were shown next to content that was later removed for misinformation or hate.
  • Provide refunds to advertisers for those advertisements
  • Prove it: send out an audited transparency report specifically addressing these suggestions.

Increase safety in private groups on Facebook.

  • At the request of a member of a private group, provide at least one Facebook-affiliated moderator per group with more than 150 members. Consider more moderators for even larger groups.
  • Create an internal mechanism to automatically flag content in private groups associated with extremist ideologies for human review. This content and associated groups would then be reviewed by internal subject matter experts on extremism.

Facebook's response

  • In a video live streamed over Facebook Friday afternoon (6/26) Mark Zuckerberg said the social-media network would start labelling posts that violate its policies against hate speech.
  • Facebook will also start attaching links to content that discusses voting, including posts by politicians, directing users to a page with authoritative resources about the November U.S. presidential election.
  • The company plans to ban ads that include derogatory statements about people based on identifiable categories such as immigration status or sexual orientation.

Zuckerberg said. “The policies that we’re implementing today are designed to address the reality and the challenges that our country is facing and how these challenges are showing up across our platform and our community.”

Advertising Marketplace Response

As of Friday, 6/26 over 90 companies e.g. Unilever, Honda, Verizon, Coca-Cola and North Face have either joined the “Stop Hate for Profit” movement by pledging to pause Facebook media in July or paused social media advertising in general.

Several brands have stated that they will pause Facebook and Twitter advertising for the remainder of the year while others have stated that they will pause all social media buys until further notice without aligning themselves with the official cause.

Several companies have placed Social media as an integral part of their media and marketing mix, therefore such pauses could have implications for their business from a financial (conversions/purchases) and brand standpoint (engagement, new prospects). However, with the growing climate of demanding accountability and change, we are still monitoring consumers' response and/or favorability to businesses joining the boycott versus not.

Advertiser Implications of Pausing Social Media

There are a few courses of actions advertisers can take. We have provided a brief summary of implications for each option.

Option A: Pause All Social Media

  • Drop in brand visibility, engagements and conversions.
  • For advertisers that utilize retargeting tactics, once they re-launch their campaigns there will be a ramp-up period to rebuild retargeting pools which could result in lagging performance.
  • Drop in earned impressions
  • Brands could continue organic posts however, paid boosts would fall under the pause category. This could potentially diminish your organic message reach.

Option B: Pause Facebook/Instagram; Switching to Other Social Platforms

  • If presence is not currently on other platforms (Twitter, Tik Tok, Snapchat, Pinterest), advertisers would need to quickly set up new accounts.
  • Drop in overall performance and future optimization data (less impressions, reach, conversions etc). Each social platform has its strengths and weaknesses within the funnel (engagement vs conversion). Facebook/Instagram typically are the most efficient for a full funnel campaign, therefore advertisers will need to pivot on objectives and KPIs based on new platforms.
  • Cost per clicks and CPMs will be higher on other social platforms.

Option C: Switching to Specific Facebook/Instagram Placements

  • Examples: Facebook Stories, Instagram Stories, Messenger Stories, Partner Apps & Sites
  • Changing placement mix will likely result in overall drop in performance.
  • Benchmarks would no longer be comparable.
  • Possible backlash for staying on platform.

Palisades' POV on Next Steps

Ultimately, the decision to pause Facebook and other social media platforms that is made in regards to Facebook and other social media platforms should ideally align with your overall corporate position on current events. It is important that the decision made is an authentic one and aligns with your corporate beliefs and customer communications. Consumers have not boycotted social media platforms as it is still a valuable place to connect and voice their opinions. However, there is an opportunity at this time for companies to join forces to provide support to those who are targets of hate, increase platform safety, and remove support of misinformation and harmful content.