Coca-Cola joins Facebook boycott with a pause on all social media advertising starting July 1st

The Coca-Cola Company is pausing all digital advertising on social media platforms globally for at least 30 days starting July 1st, the non-alcoholic drink giant announced on Friday evening.

The move is section of a broader boycott of Facebook and Instagram organized by the Anti-Defamation League, the NAACP, and other companies called the “Stop Hate For Profit” campaign. Coca-Cola is going one step beyond some of those businesses and banning all adverts globally on social media platforms, not only Facebook and Instagram. That would suggest the boycott will hit Twitter, YouTube, as well as other platforms aswell.

“Starting on July 1, The Coca-Cola Company will pause paid advertising on all social media platforms globally for at least 30 days,” reads a statement from Coca-Cola Company CEO James Quincey posted to the brand’s website. “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. We will let them know we expect greater accountability, action and transparency from them.”

Earlier today, Unilever joined Verizon as the two largest businesses participating in the boycott just before Coca-Cola’s involvement Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also announced a number of policy changes that, without explicitly in response to the boycott, appear designed to attempt to address lots of the criticisms the organization has faced of late regarding its not enough moderation of violent threats, hate speech, and misinformation posted by President Donald Trump as well as other controversial accounts and pages.

“This continues a significant trend of major brands — including Unilever and Verizon — committing to pause Facebook ads for at least the month of July,” reads a statement from progressive nonprofit Color of Change, one of many organizers of the boycott. “Since Color Of Change and its partners, including the ADL and NAACP, launched the campaign on June 17, over 100 brands have signed on.” Color of Change President Rashad Robinson said on Friday that chocolate brand Hershey’s is also joining the boycott.

Yet while the boycott may be creating a wave of bad press for Facebook and Instagram, it’s unlikely even major advertisers pausing ad spending for starters month may have a substantial effect on Facebook’s main point here, as a majority of the company’s ad revenue arises from direct-response adverts from small and medium-sized businesses.

“We invest billions of dollars each year to keep our community safe and continuously work with outside experts to review and update our policies,” a Facebook spokesperson told NBC News earlier in the day today in response to Unilever’s announcement. “We know we have more work to do, and we’ll continue to work with civil rights groups, GARM, and other experts to develop even more tools, technology and policies to continue this fight.”

Facebook did not straight away respond to a request for comment regarding Coca-Cola’s decision.

The Stop Hate For Profit campaign launched the other day, starting with popular sports and outdoor lifestyle brands like The North Face and Patagonia. It has since gained steam with mainstream corporate America after picking up support from ice cream brand Ben & Jerry’s and film distributor Magnolia Pictures. In an open letter posted yesterday, the ADL provides more concrete details concerning the changes the boycott seeks to produce in Facebook’s policies and its way of moderation.

“Today, we are asking all businesses to stand in solidarity with our most deeply held American values of freedom, equality and justice and not advertise on Facebook’s services in July,” read an ad the Stop Hate For Profit campaign ran in the Los Angeles Times earlier this week. “Let’s send Facebook a powerful message: Your profits will never be worth promoting hate, bigotry, racism, antisemitism and violence.”

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