International consumer goods conglomerate Unilever announced on Friday that it will stop all ad spending with social media giants Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for the rest of the year. The huge multinational company invests over $1 billion into its advertising campaign and has a worldwide presence with over 400 brands like Knorr, Lipton, and Lifebuoy. The news had massive impacts on the tech stock market with Facebook’s stock falling 7 percent after the news was broken by The Wall Street Journal.
This comes after social media giants adopted controversial policies regarding hate speech and social injustice. Facebook especially has been facing extreme backlash from the public as well as corporations over the way it handles content moderation including misinformation and racially charged posts. Over 90 companies such as Ben & Jerry’s, Verizon, The North Face, etc have joined an advertising boycott of Facebook and Instagram called “Stop Hate for Profit”, refusing to advertise with them until they changes how way the moderate content.
The companies say they are working on their policies and recognize any shortcomings they may have had in the past. “We invest billions of dollars each year to keep our community safe and continuously work with outside experts to review and update our policies,” said a Facebook spokesperson. “We know we have more work to do, and we’ll continue to work with civil rights groups, GARM, and other experts to develop even more tools, technology and policies to continue this fight.”
Twitter also responded, with VP of global client solutions Sarah Personette saying, “We have developed policies and platform capabilities designed to protect and serve the public conversation, and as always, are committed to amplifying voices from underrepresented communities and marginalized groups. We are respectful of our partners’ decisions and will continue to work and communicate closely with them during this time.”
Unilever will continue its planned advertising campaign, shifting focus to other media outlets instead. “The complexities of the current cultural landscape have placed a renewed responsibility on brands to learn, respond and act to drive a trusted and safe digital ecosystem,” explained the companyin a statement to The Verge. “Continuing to advertise on these platforms at this time would not add value to people and society. We will be monitoring ongoing and will revisit our current position if necessary.”