Starbucks pauses social media ads as it targets ‘hate speech’

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Starbucks said last Sunday that it will pause its advertising on social media while it studies ways to “stop the spread of hate speech” as part of a growing corporate movement.

“We believe in bringing communities together, both in person and online, and we stand against hate speech,” the Seattle-based corporation, which operates thousands of restaurants around the world, said in a brief statement.

“We believe more must be done to create welcoming and inclusive online communities, and we believe both business leaders and policy makers need to come together to affect real change.”

The coffee-selling giant added, “We will pause advertising on all social media platforms while we continue discussions internally, with our media partners and with civil rights organisations in the effort to stop the spread of hate speech.”

Amid an intense national debate over racism and frequent eruptions of ugly, hate-filled speech on social media, Starbucks thus followed the lead of other big corporations like Unilever and Coca-Cola, which announced similar pauses on Friday.

Major social media platforms, but particularly Facebook, have faced sharp criticism for failing to eliminate racist or hate-filled posts.

Calls for an advertising boycott of Facebook next month have come from the NAACP, the big civil rights group that defends African Americans’ interests, and the Anti-Defamation League.

But like Coca-Cola, Starbucks said it was not joining that boycott.

A woman looks at the plywood covering the windows of a Starbucks store in downtown Naperville, Illinois, as Naperville residents used hearts to post messages in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. PHOTO: AP