Verizon joins brands boycotting Facebook ads over hate speech

San Francisco (AFP)

US telecoms giant Verizon joined the growing list of brands vowing to stop buying advertising on Facebook on Thursday over its perceived failure to crack down on hate speech and incitements to violence.

“We’re pausing our advertising until Facebook can create an acceptable solution that makes us comfortable and is consistent with what we’ve done with YouTube and other partners,” said John Nitti, Verizon chief media officer.

Verizon said it is 'pausing' its advertising on Facebook
Verizon said it is ‘pausing’ its advertising on Facebook Josep Lago AFP/File

Multiple companies — most recently Ben & Jerry’s — have announced they will halt advertising purchases in July after the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) called for the boycott as part of the “Stop the Hate for Profit” campaign.

Facebook’s “hate speech, incitement, and misinformation policies are inequitable,” ADL chief executive Jonathan Greenblatt said in a letter Thursday.

Greenblatt noted the social media giant’s “haphazard” placement of advertising, pointing to an example in which a Verizon ad appeared next to “a video from the conspiracy group QAnon drawing on hateful and anti-Semitic rhetoric.”

Facebook is under increasing pressure for its hands-off approach to misinformation and inflammatory posts, particularly by US President Donald Trump.

The social media company made an estimated $70 billion annually from ads, the coalition — which includes the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) — behind #StopHateForProfit claimed in a statement on the ADL website.

“We respect any brand’s decision, and remain focused on the important work of removing hate speech and providing critical voting information,” said Facebook’s Carolyn Everson, vice president of global marketing solutions.

Sporting goods makers Patagonia, North Face and REI, as well as the freelance staffing agency Upwork have all said they would boycott Facebook.

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