Unilever is suspending its advertising campaigns on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to pressure Facebook Inc. and Twitter to make an appropriate adjustment against discrimination and hate speech on their social media networks.
The death of George Floyd raised the public’s awareness about hate speech and misinformation, intensifying a social dispute among civil rights groups, and enterprises, especially social media corporations.
Facebook, as the largest social media platform in the world, was denounced for its passive attitude towards hate speech and racial equality.
Facebook policy has failed to optimally curb some of the more radical speeches on the Internet, which touched a raw nerve with underprivileged groups.
“Brands have a duty to help build a trusted and safe digital ecosystem,” Unilever stated.
As an FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) giant, Unilever is one of the main advertisers on Facebook.
In 2019, the company spent around $42 billion dollars in advertising on Facebook, and was ranked 30th on the top advertisers list; the highest ranking so far of those enterprises joining the Facebook boycott.
On June 26th, Unilever announced a pause in all brand advertising on Facebook in the United States for the rest of 2020 in direct response to its support for the #StopHateforProfit campaign reverberating around the whole social media industry.
In doing so, Unilever is striking a chord with multiple companies such as Coca-Cola, Starbucks and more, leaving Facebook facing an unprecedented crisis.
Last year, Facebook’s total revenue amounted to $70 billion dollars.
Sources indicate that the majority of Facebook’s revenue is generated by small and medium size enterprises (SME) and that top 100 global companies, including Unilever, Microsoft, Walmart and so on, only account for 6% of the total, meaning that the loss and headlines are more symbolic, and will not have as large a financial impact as the public might seem to think.
However, the blow is still gripping Facebook.
With a growing list of companies joining the boycott, it may force moves to truly impede hate speech from Facebook, thus bringing about far-reaching impacts.
As of June 26th, Facebook’s share price had plunged 8.32%, in what is the sharpest decline in the past three months, eliminating $56 billion dollars from Facebook’s market value.
Meanwhile, according to Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, lost $7.2 billion of his own personal net worth, and dropped into fourth place on the world’s richest men rankings.
Partial list of companies pulling ads:
Adidas / Ben & Jerry’s / Blue Bottle Coffee
Coca-Cola / Diageo / Eddie Bauer
Eileen Fisher / Ford / Hershey’s
Honda / HP / Levi Strauss
Magnolia Picture / Microsoft/Patagonia
Puma / The North Face / Starbucks
Unilever / Vans / Verizon