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Microsoft suspends advertising on facebook, joins other global brands in advertiser boycott

Filed on June 30, 2020
Microsoft was facebook's third-largest advertiser in 2019, after Home Depot and Walmart.

(AFP)

Microsoft has suspended its global advertising on facebook and Instagram, over concerns about brand safety, according to a report by Axios on Tuesday.

The global tech giant, which spent more than $115 million on facebook ads in 2019, said that it is concerned about its ads showing up on the social media portals alongside inappropriate content such as hate speech. Microsoft first suspended its advertising on facebook and Instagram in the US in May, before expanding the move to include facebook's platforms worldwide.

"Microsoft is concerned about where its ads are shown, not facebook's policies. But, the move still means yet another big advertiser is not spending on facebook right now," said the report citing internal Microsoft posts.

In 2019, Microsoft was facebook's third-largest advertiser after Home Depot and Walmart, according to Pathmatics, a market intelligence firm. On Friday, facebook's share price dropped by eight per cent.

"Based on concerns we had back in May we suspended all media spending on Facebook/Instagram in the US and we've subsequently suspended all spending on Facebook/Instagram worldwide," Microsoft CMO, Chris Capossela, reportedly said in an internal post on enterprise social network, Yammer.

"The timeline on resuming our media spending is dependent on the positive actions they take, but I expect our pause will continue through August," Capossela added.
Microsoft is the latest in a long line of companies that are pulling ads from facebook. Most of them are part of an advertiser boycott in protest of the social media company's failure to curb hate speech.

A civil rights coalition, which includes the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the NAACP, launched the #StopHateforProfit campaign last week, when it called on major corporations to put a pause on advertising on facebook, citing the company's "repeated failure to meaningfully address the vast proliferation of hate on its platforms."

Other companies that have made the decision to stop advertising on the platform include sportswear company, Adidas; apparel brands, Puma and The North Face; ice cream company, Ben & Jerry's; automakers, Ford and Honda; Coca-Cola; Hershey's; and Starbucks.

According to data by Pathmatics, the highest-spending 100 brands accounted for $4.2 billion in facebook advertising last year - about six per cent of the platform's ad revenue. Topping the list were Home Depot, Walmart, Microsoft, AT&T, and Disney.

Experts noted that much of the rest of facebook's ad revenue comes from small and medium-sized businesses, and that it would likely take thousands of such businesses pulling their ads over a significant period of time, to make a dent in facebook's bottom line.

In a statement to CNN on Friday, Carolyn Everson, VP of facebook's global business group, said: "We deeply respect any brand's decision and remain focused on the important work of removing hate speech and providing critical voting information. Our conversations with marketers and civil rights organizations are about how, together, we can be a force for good."

Here is a list of all the companies that have pulled their ads from facebook:

Adidas

The sportswear company Adidas said Monday it is pausing advertising on Facebook and Instagram on a global basis, becoming yet another major brand to put pressure on the social media giant.

"Racist, discriminatory, and hateful online content have no place in our brand or in society," the company said in a statement. "As we focus on better practices within our company and communities to ensure lasting change in the fight against racism, Adidas and Reebok will also pause advertising on Facebook and Instagram globally throughout July."

Adidas, which also owns Reebok, added: "Over the next 30 days we will develop criteria to hold ourselves and every one of our partners accountable for creating and maintaining safe environments."

The company did not say it was formally joining the #StopHateForProfit advertiser boycott, which is being organized by civil rights groups.

Arc'teryx

"Effective immediately, we will be halting our global advertising with @Facebook & @instagram until at least the end of July in support of the #stophateforprofit campaign," Arc'teryx said in a tweet on June 23.

The outdoor apparel brand added that it will be donating the money it would have spent on Facebook and Instagram ads toward "building more inclusive outdoors."

Ben & Jerry's

The ice cream company issued a statement on June 23 saying it supports NAACP, Color of Change, the ADL "and all those calling for Facebook to take stronger action to stop its platforms from being used to divide our nation, suppress voters, foment and fan the flames of racism and violence, and undermine our democracy."

"As of July 1st we will pause all paid advertising on Facebook and Instagram in the United States as part of the #StopHateForProfit campaign," it added.

"We call on Facebook, Inc. to take the clear and unequivocal actions called for by the campaign to stop its platform from being used to spread and amplify racism and hate."

Beam Suntory

Beam Suntory - the company behind Jim Beam, Maker's Mark and other spirits - said on June 28 that it will join the #StopHateForProfit boycott of Facebook.

In a statement, Beam Suntory said it will pause all Facebook and Instagram advertising for the month of July - and hinted it could last longer.

"We stand up for what's right, and we stand with all who are committed to the fight against hate speech, racism and prejudice," the statement said. "We hope this collective action helps catalyze positive change and accountability, and we will evaluate our advertising approach beyond July as we await Facebook's response."

Birchbox

Birchbox, the monthly beauty box subscription, said on June 26 it is joining the advertising boycott against Facebook.

The company said that instead of spending on Facebook and Instagram in July, it would be reallocating its ad dollars toward "other platforms and to support more individual content creators."

"We want Facebook to acknowledge this demand for change and to commit to making the necessary changes suggested on StopHateforProfit.org," the company said in an Instagram post.

Blue Bottle Coffee

Blue Bottle Coffee, a company in which Nestle owns a majority stake, said in a blog post Monday that it was joining the #StopHateForProfit boycott and pausing all paid advertising on Facebook and Instagram in July.

"We stand with the Anti-Defamation League, the NAACP, Color of Change, and many more organizations and brands to call on Facebook and its platforms to do more to prevent hate speech, incitement and misinformation," the company said. "While the leadership of Facebook has made some changes, we support Stop Hate for Profit's call for continued action by Mark Zuckerberg to meet the full demands of the campaign."

Chobani

Yogurt maker Chobani said Monday it is joining the #StopHateForProfit ad boycott of Facebook and pausing all paid advertising on social media.

"Action over advertising," the company said in a tweet. "We've always stood against hate & bigotry and it is our duty to help change these platforms."

Clorox

Clorox said Monday it will pause advertising on Facebook and Instagram through the end of the year.

In a statement on its website, Clorox predicted an increase in hate speech "through the balance of the year."

Clorox, whose brands include Pine-Sol, Glad, Tilex and other cleaning and household products, said it would reallocate its ad spend to other media.

"We will continue to monitor this situation and revisit our position as needed," it said. "In the meantime, we will evolve our standards and guidelines for progress for all platforms and publishers to reflect our rising expectations for greater responsibility as these channels continue to become a more important part of people's lives."

Clorox did not say it was formally joining the #StopHateForProfit campaign.

Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola is pausing all social media advertising, not just on Facebook, "for at least 30 days" beginning in July, the company said on June 26.

"We will take this time to reassess our advertising standards and policies to determine whether revisions are needed internally, and what more we should expect of our social media partners to rid the platforms of hate, violence and inappropriate content," the company said in a statement. "We will let them know we expect greater accountability, action and transparency from them."

Dashlane

Dashlane, which is a password manager, has committed to pulling advertisements for at least the month of July, Joy Howard, the company's CMO, said in a blog post via the company's website on June 22.

Howard hinted that the boycott could extend beyond that.

"It's clear that Facebook is all talk, and will not take responsibility for its role in Surveillance Capitalism out of a sense of moral duty," Howard wrote. "They will only say what money makes them say. It's time for us to put our money where their mouth is."

Howard has called on CMOs from other tech companies to join the boycott.

Denny's

Denny's, the popular diner-style restaurant chain, said on June 29 that it is also joining the boycott and will pause all paid advertising on Facebook starting July 1.

"As America's Diner, we offer an inclusive and welcoming environment where all people can enjoy a nice meal and we strongly oppose hate speech of any kind. It is our belief that Facebook has not done enough to address this important issue on its platform and we are calling on Facebook to make positive changes to its process for combatting hate speech and disinformation," Denny's said in a statement.

As of now, Denny's will pause ads on Facebook for the entire month of July, a spokeswoman for the company told CNN.

Diageo

Diageo, the beverage giant behind more than 200 brands including Smirnoff, Tanqueray and Johnnie Walker, will pause global advertising on all social media platforms starting July 1, the company announced in a tweet on June 27.

"We will continue to discuss with media partners how they will deal with unacceptable content," the tweet said.

Eddie Bauer

Eddie Bauer, an outdoor apparel brand, said in a statement on Twitter that it would halt paid ads on Facebook and Instagram through the end of July.

The company did not indicate, as some others have, whether their suspension could last longer.

Eileen Fisher

The clothing company said on June 24 it will pause paid advertising on Facebook and Instagram during the month of July.

"By withholding our advertising dollars, together we can demand that Facebook take meaningful steps to create a platform that's safer for all communities," it said in a tweet.

Ford

Ford said Monday it is pausing "all national social media advertising for the next 30 days" amid a wider advertiser backlash against Facebook.

"The existence of content that includes hate speech, violence and racial injustice on social platforms needs to be eradicated," Ford said in a statement Monday. "We are actively engaged with industry initiatives led by the Association of National Advertisers to drive more accountability, transparency and trusted measurement to clean up the digital and social media ecosystem."

This marks the second major automaker to pull back on digital advertising in June following Honda's US division's decision last Friday.

Hershey's

The candy company announced on June 26 it is joining the boycott, even after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg took to a public livestream that day to meet the public backlash.

In addition to joining the monthlong pause in July from Facebook advertising, the company said it will "cut our spending on Facebook and their platforms, including Instagram, by a third for the remainder of the year."

"We do not believe that Facebook is effectively managing violent and divisive speech on their platform," the company said. "Despite repeated assertions by Facebook to take action, we have not seen meaningful change. Earlier this month we communicated to Facebook that we were unhappy with their stance on hate speech. ... We are hopeful that Facebook will take action and make it a safe space for our consumers to communicate and gather. As a company, we stand for the values of togetherness and inclusion and we are resolute in our commitment to make a difference and be part of positive change."

Honda

The automaker's US division said on June 26 it will join the boycott, pulling its marketing from Facebook and Instagram.

The decision marks the first car manufacturer to sign onto the campaign.

"For the month of July, American Honda will withhold its advertising on Facebook and Instagram, choosing to stand with people united against hate and racism," the company said in a statement. "This is in?alignment with our company's values, which are grounded in human respect."

HP

The technology giant HP said Monday it is suspending its advertising on Facebook and warned that other social media platforms could soon see similar decisions.

In a statement, HP said it expects all platforms it advertises on to have "responsible policies" that prevent its ads from "appearing alongside objectionable content."

"We have expressed deep concerns to Facebook and are stopping U.S. advertising on the platform until we see more robust safeguards in place," the company said. "We are also reviewing our social media strategy across all markets and platforms, and we will take additional actions as needed to protect our brand and combat hateful content."

HP was Facebook's 80th-largest advertiser last year, according to Pathmatics, a market intelligence firm. The company spent an estimated $24.7 million on Facebook ads in 2019 alone.

HP did not indicate it was joining the #StopHateForProfit campaign.

JanSport

Known for its iconic brand of backpacks, JanSport announced on June 26 it would no longer advertise with Facebook and Instagram for the month of July.

It is the second brand owned by VF Corp. to sign onto the #StopHateForProfit campaign, a week after The North Face also announced it would pull ads from Facebook and Instagram.

"Count us out @Facebook. We stand with the @NAACP & @ADL to #StopHateforProfit," the brand said in a tweet. "JanSport will stop advertising on @Facebook & @instagram for the month of July and join the fight for stricter policies that keep racist, violent & hateful content from proliferating on these platforms."

Levi Strauss

The apparel company behind the Levi's and Dockers brands announced June 26 it would pause all ads on Facebook and Instagram as part of the campaign.

"We are voicing our concern about Facebook's failure to stop the spread of misinformation and hate speech on its platform," Levi Strauss said in a statement. "We believe this inaction fuels racism and violence and also has the potential to threaten our democracy and the integrity of our elections."

Magnolia Pictures

Magnolia Pictures become the first Hollywood studio to join the boycott against Facebook on June 23.

The studio behind films such as "Food, Inc." and "Man on Wire" said it would stop advertising on Facebook and Instagram immediately through at least the end of July.

"We are seeking meaningful change at Facebook and the end to their amplification of hate speech," the company said in a tweet.

Microsoft

Microsoft halted its advertising on Facebook and Instagram in May, and since then has expanded that moratorium to include Facebook's platforms worldwide, according to a top executive.

The revelation shows how Facebook lost one of its biggest advertisers weeks before the boycott began.

In 2019, Microsoft was Facebook's third-largest advertiser after Home Depot and Walmart, spending nearly $116 million on the platform, according to Pathmatics, a market intelligence firm.

Chris Capossela, Microsoft's chief marketing officer, wrote in a recent internal messaging post that while the company's pullback from Facebook is not a part of any boycott initiative, Microsoft's decision could "continue through August."

"Based on concerns we had back in May we suspended all media spending on Facebook/Instagram in the US and we've subsequently suspended all spending on Facebook/Instagram worldwide," Capossela wrote.

Capossela's post was first reported by Axios, and confirmed by a Microsoft spokesperson, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss internal communications.

According to Capossela's post, Microsoft's decision is being driven by brand safety concerns about its advertisements showing up beside content such as hate speech and terrorist material. CNN has reported that brand safety issues are a likely factor in many brands' decision making about whether to suspend advertising on social platforms such as Facebook.

Patagonia

Patagonia, another outdoor apparel brand, pulled advertising on Facebook and Instagram on June 21 as part of the boycott.

"From secure elections to a global pandemic to racial justice, the stakes are too high to sit back and let the company continue to be complicit in spreading disinformation and fomenting fear and hatred," Patagonia said in a series of tweets.

"As companies across the country work hard to ensure that Americans have access to free and fair elections this fall, we can't stand by and contribute resources to companies that contribute to the problem."

The company said it stands with the campaign and that the social media network's profits is never "worth promoting hate, bigotry, racism, antisemitism and violence."

Patreon

The crowdfunding website Patreon said on June 29 it is joining an advertising boycott of Facebook.

The company, whose platform raises money for online content creators, said in a tweet it's pausing all ads on Facebook and Instagram "effective immediately."

"At Patreon, we believe in building safe communities for creators and their fans, which means we do not tolerate hate speech of any kind," Patreon said in a tweet. "We encourage our industry peers to do the same by stopping the monetization of hate based on race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, medical conditions or disability."

Pfizer

Pfizer said Monday it is joining the #StopHateForProfit campaign to boycott Facebook's advertising platform.

The pharmaceutical company said it will suspend Facebook and Instagram advertising in July.

"Today, we are asking Facebook to take proactive steps to ensure their platforms are safe and trusted spaces for all," Pfizer said in a statement. "We are calling on Facebook to continue listening to the concerns of the #StopHateForProfit movement and take action on their product recommendations."

The company first announced its position in a tweet.

Puma

The apparel brand Puma is joining the advertiser revolt against Facebook.

"We are proud to join the #StopHateforProfit boycott," Puma said in a tweet on Monday. "We will stop all advertisements on Facebook and Instagram throughout July."

The North Face

Outdoor apparel brand The North Face was the first major company to join the boycott against Facebook (FB).

"We're in," The North Face tweeted on June 19. "We're out @Facebook #StopHateForProfit."

The North Face's commitment applies to ads on Facebook and Facebook-owned Instagram, the brand said in a statement, though it will continue to create organic content on Instagram.

Craig Hodges, a spokesman for The North Face's parent, VF Corp, said a number of other brands in the company's portfolio are "considering" following in The North Face's footsteps. VF Corp also owns Dickies, Vans, Timberland and Smartwool, among others. For the year that ended March 31, VF Corp spent $756 million on advertising.

"The North Face is halting all activity and U.S. paid advertising with Facebook until stricter policies are put in place to stop racist, violent or hateful content and misinformation from circulating on the platform," the statement said.

REI

Outdoor equipment retailer REI joined The North Face shortly after its announcement in boycotting Facebook.

"For 82 years, we have put people over profits," the company said in a tweet. "We're pulling all Facebook/Instagram advertising for the month of July."

Starbucks

The coffeehouse chain said in a statement it plans to pause "all social media" advertising.

The decision is likely to represent a massive blow to Facebook, where Starbucks (SBUX) was the sixth-largest advertiser on the platform in 2019, according to estimates by Pathmatics, a market intelligence firm. Starbucks spent an estimated $94.8 million on Facebook advertising last year.

Starbucks did not signal that it was formally joining the #StopHateForProfit ad boycott. However, the company said the moratorium will coincide with internal discussions about stopping hate speech, as well as dialogue with advertising partners and civil rights organizations.

"We believe in bringing communities together, both in person and online, and we stand against hate speech," Starbucks said in the statement. "We believe more must be done to create welcoming and inclusive online communities, and we believe both business leaders and policy makers need to come together to affect real change."

Upwork

Upwork, which is a recruiting company, followed in the footsteps of The North Face and Patagonia on June 19.

"Upwork is hitting pause on hate with no Facebook advertising in July. #StopHateForProfit," the company tweeted.

Unilever

Unilever said it will pull US advertising from Facebook, Instagram and Twitter over concerns of "divisiveness and hate speech."

The commitment will hold through at least the end of 2020, the company said in a statement on its website.

"Continuing to advertise on these platforms at this time would not add value to people and society," the statement said. It added: "The complexities of the current cultural landscape have placed a renewed responsibility on brands to learn, respond and act to drive a trusted and safe digital ecosystem."

Unilever, whose brands include Dove, Breyers, Hellmann's, Knorr and Lipton, among others, said it would redirect its ad dollars to "other media" in the United States.

In a statement responding to Unilever's decision, Twitter said it is "respectful" of decisions by advertisers.

Vans

Sneaker and clothing maker Vans tweeted Monday evening that it was joining the #StopHateForProfit campaign and would pull ad dollars from Facebook and Instagram during July.

The company said it would use those funds to "support Black communities through empowerment and education programs and expand our support of racial equality and access initiatives."

Verizon

Telecom giant Verizon said on June 25 it is pulling its advertising from Facebook, in what may be the biggest brand yet to join the #StopHateForProfit boycott.

"We're pausing our advertising until Facebook can create an acceptable solution that makes us comfortable and is consistent with we've done with YouTube and other partners," said John Nitti, chief media officer for Verizon, in a statement to CNN.

Verizon has previously yanked its advertising from YouTube over hate speech, citing Verizon's brand safety standards.

Verizon's announcement Thursday suggests that its boycott could last much longer than that of other companies that have joined the campaign organized by civil rights groups.

Vertex

Vertex Pharmaceuticals said in a tweet Monday night that it stands by "the organizations that are participating in the #StopHateForProfit campaign."

"To encourage Facebook, Inc. to take real action against the spread of hate and misinformation on their platforms, we will be pausing all ads on Facebook and Instagram," the company tweeted.

- With inputs from wires and CNN Business


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