#StopHateForProfit Leaves Only a Dent
Publishers who pulled ads from Facebook by July 1st have remained off the platform
The #StopHateForProfit movement called upon advertisers to boycott Facebook in July. The boycott that developed formally included more than 1,100 companies, with more organizations participating informally, such as most of the apparent participants in our world. It looked like a widespread and potentially effective wakeup call for Facebook.
Some major companies, like Unilever, Coca-Cola, and Clorox, opted to boycott Facebook even longer, hoping the controversial social media platform would get the message and improve its practices around hate speech, misinformation, disinformation, and extremism.
The groups behind #StopHateForProfit are now asking asking European firms to participate in another round of boycotting, and is hoping companies currently participating will extend their advertising boycotts.
Did the first boycott work? While Digiday reported that 56% of agency clients had stopped spending on Facebook in July because of the boycott, Madgicx found that average daily ad spend on Facebook and Instagram (via Madgicx’s platform) increased by $100 million in July, and was on track to increase by $200 million over June, accelerating in the last 10 days of July. Despite 90 of Facebook’s top 500 advertisers participating in the boycott, the lock Facebook has on the ad market and their model — built on thousands of small advertisers and integration of Instagram — proved largely resistant to the boycott. At best, #StopHateForProfit seems to have slowed Facebook’s growth for a few weeks.
Facebook has spent the summer so far making wrong kind of news. In June, a blistering report blasted Facebook’s civil rights practices, describing the company’s “vexing and heartbreaking decisions” as “significant setbacks for civil rights.”
In July, in a display of arrogance, Mark Zuckerberg brushed off the importance of the #StopHateForProfit boycott, saying:
My guess is that all these advertisers will be back on the platform soon enough.
Such high-handedness only seemed to re-energize the #StopHateForProfit movement, even as Facebook posted strong earnings and recovered from stock price losses in early July.
Is this over with? Unlikely. Just this week, some of Facebook’s anti-competitive behaviors were exposed during Congressional hearings with large technology company CEOs. Meanwhile, political lies, anti-semitic speech, and Covid-19 misinformation remain problems on the platform. Some positive steps have been made, but the boycott’s reality doesn’t seem to have hit home yet. With a US Presidential election coming and summer ending, I think we can anticipate Boycott 2.0 in the coming months.
How will organizations in scholarly and scientific publishing choose to operate relative to Facebook now? It’s unclear. Here is a recap of those companies in our space which stated their participation explicitly, or quietly pulled ads from Facebook without fanfare. I couldn’t find any ads for these organizations in July, after multiple checks.
Stated Boycott Participants
American Academy of Family Physicians
Harvard Business Review Press
University of California Press
University of Toronto Press
Likely Boycott Participants, Still No Ads
Academy of Management
American Academy of Neurology
American Academy of Pediatrics
American Association for the Advancement of Science
American Chemical Society
American College of Cardiology
American College of Chest Physicians
American College of Physicians
American Dental Association
American Mathematical Society
American Physiological Society
American Psychological Association
American Society of Clinical Oncology
American Urological Association
American Veterinary Medical Association
American Water Works Association
Cambridge University Press
Harvard University Press
IEEE and IEEE Xplore
Institute for Civil Engineering (ICE Publishing)
Johns Hopkins University Press
Mary Ann Liebert
Modern Language Association
NEJM and NEJM Knowledge+
Oxford University Press
Royal Society of Chemistry
Taylor & Francis
If you have updates or changes, please contact me.
Facebook continues to be a threat to our society on many levels, and recent news about the company is not reassuring. Zuckerberg may feel his company won this battle, but with regulators becoming more emboldened, employees more openly voicing dismay at the company’s attitudes, and dissatisfaction with the platform growing, Facebook’s leadership seems a bit more rattled and exposed than before — which is one non-financial measure of the boycott’s effect, perhaps.