Unilever, the multinational consumer goods company, announced that it will halt ads on the social platforms of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter until at least the end of 2020 due to the rampant hate speech being spread on them. Unilever stated that such advertising would not add value to people and society. It further added that these platforms haven’t made substantial efforts against hate speech and haven’t been divisive enough to curb it especially around polarized election time in the USA.
In response, Facebook defended its efforts through its investments in AI and its banning of 250 white supremacist groups from Facebook and Instagram. It further added that it will continue to work with experts to develop tools and policies to further target hate speech.
At the same time, Twitter said that it respects Unilever’s decision and will continue close communications with them. It then said that it has worked on policies and platform capabilities made to protect public conversation and that it is committed to representing underrepresented and marginalised communities.
After the gruesome murder of George Floyd, protests against racial discrimination sprung up all across the globe. While social media was filled with outrage, Donald Trump put up a post on social media saying, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts”. While Twitter condemned this post by the US president claiming that it was glorifying violence, Facebook defended it saying that the social network allows for as much free expression as possible.
Several companies like Verizon, Birchbox, The North Face, Ben & Jerry’s, Patagonia, Eddie Bauer, Honda and REI have declared a bigger boycott on Facebook ads in July due to the same reason. The boycott originally hatched out of the #StopHateForProfit campaign by the Color of Change, Free Press, NAACP, Common Sense, Anti-Defamation League, Mozilla, LULAC, NHMC and Sleeping Giants. The campaign website states, “Let’s send Facebook a powerful message: Your profits will never be worth promoting hate, bigotry, racism, antisemitism and violence.”