Soft drinks giant Coca-Cola will hit pause on all paid social media advertising globally ‘for at least 30 days’ to review its policies, as major brands pull back from Facebook Instagram and Twitter amid concerns over content moderation.
James Quincey, chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company, announced the move on Friday, saying the time would be used to review the company’s advertising policies.
“There is no place for racism in the world and there is no place for racism on social media,” Quincey said in a statement.
“We will take this time to reassess our advertising policies to determine whether revisions are needed. We also expect greater accountability and transparency from our social media partners.”
Coca-Cola said it is not joining an official boycott of social media sites, but said “we are pausing” advertising.
Unilever, P&G, Starbucks, The Hershey Company, Diageo, Patagonia and The North Face are among a growing list of major global brands that are boycotting social networking giants, primarily in the US, as part of a #StopHateForProfit movement based on the handling of hate speech and misinformation online.
Unilever said it plans to pull ads from Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in the US until ‘at least the end of the year’ over the ‘polarized atmosphere’ in the country.
“Continuing to advertise on these platforms at this time would not add value to people and society,” Unilever said in a statement.
The Hershey Company said it would stop advertising on Facebook in July and cut advertising on the site by one-third for the rest of the year, while Starbucks will pause advertising for an unspecified period of time, but isn’t joining the official boycott.
“We will pause advertising on all social media platforms while we continue discussions internally, with our media partners and with civil rights organizations in the effort to stop the spread of hate speech,” the coffee chain said in a statement on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Procter & Gamble said in a statement that it is reviewing advertising “to ensure that the content and commentary accurately and respectfully all people, and that we are not advertising on or near content we determine to be hateful, discriminatory, denigrating or derogatory.”
“We’re working with media companies and platforms to take appropriate systemic action where needed,” P&G chief brand officer Marc Pritchard said.
The #StopHateForProfit movement was formed in response to Facebook’s unwillingness to police ads on the site. But after hemorrhaging a flurry of major advertisers last week, Facebook changed tack to reassure brands that it would crack down on hate speech.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said on Friday that it will begin labeling content that it finds newsworthy but that violates its rules, but many brands feel this is still not going far enough.
“A handful of times a year, we leave up content that would otherwise violate our policies if the public interest value outweighs the risk of harm. Often, seeing speech from politicians is in the public interest, and in the same way that news outlets will report what a politician says, we think people should generally be able to see it for themselves on our platforms,” Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post.
He also said that the site would ban advertising containing claims “that people of a specific race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, caste, sexual orientation, gender identity or immigration status” are a threat to others.
Reuters reported on Monday that the organisers of the advertising boycott intend to take the battle global and will begin calling on major companies in Europe to get involved.