Verizon joins ad boycott of Facebook over hateful content

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Verizon is joining an escalating movement to siphon advertising away from Facebook in an effort to pressure the company into doing more to prevent racist and violent information from being shared on its social networking service.

The decision announced on Thursday by one of the world’s biggest telecommunications companies is part of an boycott organised by civil rights and other advocacy groups under the rallying cry of ‘#StopHateforProfit’.

The protest, spurred by last month’s killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, is supposed to last through July.

“We have strict content policies in place and have zero tolerance when they are breached, we take action,” New York-based Verizon said in a statement.

“We’re pausing our advertising until Facebook can create an acceptable solution that makes us comfortable.”

Social media application Facebook is displayed on Apple’s App Store in Chicago. PHOTO: AP

Verizon noted that it has previously stopped advertising at other popular online destinations, such as Google’s YouTube video service, when it has felt its promotions might appear alongside content inconsistent with the company’s values.

In its own statement, Facebook executive Carolyn Everson said the company respected Verizon’s decision and remains committed to purging hateful content from its services.

“Our conversations with marketers and civil rights organisations are about how, together, we can be a force for good,” said Vice President of Facebook’s global business group Everson.

Other advertisers who have pledged to stay off Facebook and other company services such as Instagram include three major outdoor gear companies, Patagonia, The North Face and REI.

Common Sense, one of the boycott organisers, said other companies who have agree to “pause” their Facebook advertising include retailer Eddie Bauer, web browser maker Mozilla and a movie studio, Magnolia Pictures.

The boycott, in theory, could pinch Facebook’s profits since the company makes most of its money from ads targetted at the interests that more than two billion people share on its various services. Investors, so far, don’t appear worried about that, though.

Shares in the company based in Menlo Park, California, hit an all-time high USD245.19 earlier this week and haven’t fallen dramatically.

The stock closed Thursday at USD235.68.