By CATHERINE THORBECKE, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — Iconic ice cream brand Ben & Jerry’s became the latest company to join the growing boycott of Facebook and Instagram ads at the urging of the NAACP and other civil rights advocacy groups.
“Ben & Jerry’s stands with our friends at the NAACP and 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,” the company said in a statement Tuesday.
“As of July 1st we will pause all paid advertising on Facebook and Instagram in the United States as part of the #StopHateForProfit,” the statement 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.”
Last week, a coalition of advocacy groups lead by the NAACP, Colors of Change and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) launched the #StopHateforProfit campaign, calling on corporations to pause advertising on Facebook during the month of July.
The campaign comes as the nation has been rocked by protests over the killing of George Floyd, and corporate America has faced immense pressure to reaffirm commitment to racial justice initiatives through actions not just words.
“The campaign is a response to Facebook’s long history of allowing racist, violent and verifiably false content to run rampant on its platform,” the groups said in a joint statement. “The campaign will organize corporate and public pressure to demand Facebook stop generating ad revenue from hateful content, provide more support to people who are targets of racism and hate, and to increase safety for private groups on the platform, among other measures.”
The organizations accused Facebook of allowing incitement to violence against protesters fighting for racial justice, silencing Black users on the platform and failing to protect them from online threats, as well as allowing the platform to be used as part of “widespread voter suppression efforts, using targeted disinformation aimed at Black voters.”
“Facebook remains unwilling to take significant steps to remove political propaganda from its platform,” Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP, said in a statement.
“It is clear that Facebook and its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, are no longer simply negligent, but in fact, complacent in the spread of misinformation, despite the irreversible damage to our democracy,” Johnson added. “Such actions will upend the integrity of our elections as we head into 2020. We will not stand for this. While we recognize the value that Facebook provides in connecting people of color with one another, we call into question a platform that profits from the suppression of Black votes or Black voices.”
Ben & Jerry’s is the latest company to join a growing number of brands boycotting Facebook ads in July. Outdoor brands REI, the North Face, and Patagonia all affirmed their commitments to the #StopHateForProfit campaign via social media.
“For 82 years, we have put people over profits. We’re pulling all Facebook/Instagram advertising for the month of July,” REI said in a tweet last Friday, with the hashtag #StopHateForProfit.
The North Face wrote on Twitter: “We’re in. We’re Out @Facebook,” along with the hashtag and a link to the Stop Hate for Profit’s demands.
Patagonia shared a Twitter thread on Sunday, saying it will pull all ads on Facebook and Instagram at least through the end of July, “pending meaningful action from the social media giant.”
“For too long, Facebook has failed to take sufficient steps to stop the spread of hateful lies and dangerous propaganda on its platform,” Cory Bayers, the head of marketing at Patagonia, wrote on its official Twitter handle. “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.”
Facebook responded to the campaign saying it remains focused on the work of removing hate speech and providing voting information.
“We respect any brand’s decision, and remain focused on the important work of removing hate speech and providing critical voting information,” Carolyn Everson, the VP of global business group at Facebook, told ABC News in a statement on Wednesday.
“Our conversations with marketers and civil rights organizations are about how, together, we can be a force for good,” she added.
Facebook noted that it has made significant improvements to their work of removing hate speech, noting that it assesses notifications in less than 24 hours for more than 95% of the cases.
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