Unilever, one of the world’s largest advertisers, joined a growing number of brands boycotting advertising on Facebook properties, sending shares of the social media company down 8.3 percent on Friday.
With an annual advertising budget of about $8 billion, Unilever said it plans to shift its U.S. ad dollars earmarked for Facebook and Twitter to other media. It owns brands including Lipton’s Tea, Hellmann’s and Best Foods mayonnaise, and Axe shower gel.
Facebook’s share-price drop eliminated $56 billion from its market value and pushed CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s net worth down to $82.3 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Unilever joins The North Face, Verizon, Hershey and Coca-Cola, which said they’re stopping or pausing social media ads after civil rights groups accused Facebook of not doing enough to stop hate speech and disinformation on the platform, Ad Age reported. Other advertisers say they’re boycotting Facebook ads including outdoor apparel and equipment companies Patagonia and Recreational Equipment, and Ben & Jerry’s, North Face and Eddie Bauer.
Six civil rights groups including the NAACP, Sleeping Giants, Color Of Change, Free Press, Common Sense and Anti-Defamation League, are calling on advertisers to stop ad spending on Facebook in July. The “Stop Hate for Profit” campaign was launched after George Floyd died in police custody.
The civil rights groups took out a full-page ad in The Los Angeles Times demanding Facebook remove hateful rhetoric and messages that incite violence against protected groups.
“Continuing to advertise on these platforms at this time would not add value to people and society,” Unilever said in a statement, according to Investors.com. “We will be monitoring ongoing and will revisit our current position if necessary.”
Verizon chief media officer John Nitti said on Thursday, “We have strict content policies in place and have zero tolerance when they are breached. 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.”
New York University digital marketing Prof. Scott Galloway is one of the staunchest critics of social networks, although they’re among his favorite stocks to invest in, he said in an interview with Fast Company. Galloway wrote “The Four,” a book about how Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Google became four of the world’s most influential companies.
He described Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as “the biggest oligarch in the history of mankind,” and that he is “leveraging his proximity to power in corrupt ways just to increase his wealth.”
“Zuckerberg is the most dangerous person in the world,” Galloway said. “He has absolutely institutionalized sociopathy, and he has a $2 billion beard in Sheryl Sandberg who runs around wallpapering over the actions of one of the most damaging organizations in the world.”
Galloway went on to explain his criteria for buying stocks.
“I have two criteria for stocks,” he said. “There’s no reason to buy a stock except to invest in a company that has a monopoly and is unregulated. I’ve owned four stocks the last 10 years—Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google.
“These companies constantly prostitute the notion of the First Amendment,” Galloway said. “And whenever they say First Amendment, what they really mean is they want to pretend that they shouldn’t be the arbiters of truth, such that they can let their supernova business models run unfettered.
“This has nothing to do with the First Amendment. They are private companies; they are not obligated to the First Amendment. There is nothing in any of their backgrounds that shows any reverence or respect for free speech.
“And this isn’t about letting people with viewpoints that you or me might find offensive have a platform. What these companies have done is created a business model where the most incendiary, upsetting, controversial, and oftentimes false and damaging things get more oxygen than they deserve because we are a tribal species and when people say things that are upsetting we tend to engage.
Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 73: Jamarlin Martin Jamarlin makes the case for why this is a multi-factor rebellion vs. just protests about George Floyd. He discusses the Democratic Party’s sneaky relationship with the police in cities and states under Dem control, and why Joe Biden is a cop and the Steve Jobs of mass incarceration.
“Engagement equals enrichment,” Galloway said. “The more rage equals the more clicks equals the more Nissan ads.”
Don’t hold your breath for shareholders or consumers to change anything, Galloway said.
“If we’re waiting for shareholders to revolt, don’t count on it. We also shouldn’t count on consumers, on their better angels. People want that little black dress for $9.99, and they’ll talk a big game about an unethical supply chain but they still want that dress for $9.99.”
Instead, Galloway proposes breaking up big tech companies like Facebook. If that happens, he said, “one of them might raise their hand and say … ‘Hey Unilever, advertise with us on our search engine because we’ve made the requisite investment to ensure that when someone types in ‘overthrow the government,’ they get a voter registration form and not instructions on how to build a dirty bomb.”