Facebook boycott not about denting revenue but appealing to its ‘conscience’: ADL chief

The advertising boycott against Facebook (FB) started in protest of policies regarding how it deals with hate speech and prejudice through content moderation and its algorithms. The boycott has over 100 co-signers after just a few days, including some large outdoor retail brands like The North Face, REI, Patagonia, and Arc’Teryx. 

The boycott, called “Stop Hate for Profit,” is led by the NAACP, Anti-Defamation League, Color for Change, Common Sense, Sleeping Giants, Mozilla, and more.

“[The companies] are saying that Facebook’s continued permissive attitude toward prejudice, allowing hate to spread on their platform, failing to stand up for racial justice,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League and one of the organizers, told Yahoo Finance’s The Ticker. “That just doesn’t align with the values of these brands.”

Similar to the “delete Facebook” campaigns that emerged after the Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018, this may not end up making a meaningful dent in revenue for the megacap company. Facebook’s monster revenue comes from myriad small businesses’ ad spends as well as big players alike. 

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. (Photo by Sven Hoppe/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Greenblatt concedes as much, but says it’s not just about making a dent in Facebook’s revenue, which was $70.7 billion for the full year 2019. It’s about “conscience,” he said.

“This isn’t about making a dent in Facebook’s purse, if you will, it’s about making a point with Facebook’s conscience,” said Greenblatt. The ADL CEO explained that the ADL as well as the NAACP and other groups behind the boycott — which has been a month long for many businesses — is about raising the issue’s profile.

“We’re simply saying enough is enough,” said Greenblatt. “We’re asking businesses to take just a one-month pause on their ad spending. This doesn’t mean that businesses can’t interact with their consumers on Facebook.”

The boycott organizers have a clear set of product recommendations, including providing more support for targets of racism, antisemitism, and hate, including live employee support, release data around reporting, stop generating ad revenue from misinformation and harmful content, and increased moderation in private groups.

Facebook didn’t respond to a request for comment but has said to media outlets that it respects companies’ decisions about the boycott.

Ethan Wolff-Mann is a writer at Yahoo Finance focusing on consumer issues, personal finance, retail, airlines, and more. Follow him on Twitter @ewolffmann.

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