Verizon is the latest, largest advertiser to pull out from advertising on Facebook
Don’t call me maybe.
Verizon announced late yesterday that it is pulling its advertising on Facebook for the month of July (at least), answering the call of Stop Hate For Profit, a non-profit encouraging advertisers to stop empowering Facebook’s lackadaisical attitude toward hateful, alt-right, bullshit Nazi-adjacent content including the loons at QAnon and well, the President.
This move by Verizon follows advertisers like Ben & Jerry’s, Patagonia, REI, and Northface (the latter being the one to break the advertising boycott seal) in dropping advertising on the platform for the month of July. Verizon is surely the largest advertiser so far to remove its advertising, and it was prompted by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) pointing out that Verizon ads were popping up next to a QAnon video promoting antisemitic nonsense and conspiracy theories.
In an open letter posted this week, the ADL stated:
Our partner organizations have been working with Facebook for years and we’ll continue to work with them. But when it comes to dealing with rampant hate and harassment, the platform continues to come up short. What are they doing with $70 billion in revenue and $17 billion in profit? Their hate speech, incitement, and misinformation policies are inequitable. Their harassment victim services are inadequate. Their advertising placement’s proximity to hateful content is haphazard. And their “civil rights” audit transparency reports aren’t helpful to the civil rights community.
Every day, we see ads from companies placed adjacent to hateful content, occupying the same space as extremist recruitment groups and harmful disinformation campaigns. Your ad buying dollars are being used by the platform to increase its dominance in the industry at the expense of vulnerable and marginalized communities who are often targets of hate groups on Facebook.
Facebook has done fuck all to assuage the concerns of both advertisers and civil-rights groups, basically nodding like a disinterested manager and then quietly waiting until the awkward silence is overwhelming and you just leave the office. Facebook literally said it won’t make policy changes tied to revenue pressure. Because, well, it doesn’t have to.
It’s fairly clear at this point (and aligns with what I and many others have been saying for years) that Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg especially, do not give a shit about users. Well, Facebook gives a shit about user data and the right users, but certainly not quality of content. Facebook is a money machine, that is it. It is doing exactly what it was designed to do, by a shitty human whose only interest was the exploitation of the user base in a lifelong quest to prove himself better and smarter than the rest.
If that means taking a hard stance and aligning with the high-trafficked, fully engaged, and engorged nutters on the alt-right, then so be it. Nazis and antisemites are apparently much more profitable than the larger portion of the population not seeking to undermine democracy. However, the amount of lip service coming out of all this should not go unnoticed.
Facebook’s VP of global business Carolyn Everson told CNBC in a statement: “We respect any brand’s decision, and remain focused on the important work of removing hate speech and providing critical voting information. Our conversations with marketers and civil rights organizations are about how, together, we can be a force for good.”
Banhammering the bullshit sounds great, but is difficult to implement
We know it’s hard, there is so much of it. Training an algorithm to handle it has been a mess. Training people to do it has been a mess (and psychologically damaging). How do you clean up social media platforms in a way that keeps them safe and clear of hate speech and lies? You can’t. Which is why Facebook is just sitting on its hands here. It knows advertisers will have no choice but to come back.
Unless they all leave. But that’s not going to happen. Even the ones who have pulled advertising have only done so for the month of July. But this should be a fucking raging forest fire for the rest of us and how we use Facebook with such reckless abandon every day. The pictures of our kids, the personal statements, the everything we fucking do on the platform is being collected, tracked, and sold. But just like the advertisers, when we threaten to leave, we come right back.
Because no matter how you spin it, even with horseshit factory Breibart being a “trusted news source” and alt-right site The Daily Caller being a “fact-checker” on Facebook, it’s still a tool that is required at this point for most of us to function online. Fine. Until there is an alternative, a less shitty Facebook (which, like Twitter, would have to be a paid platform) we’ll keep using it with a grunt and a sigh.
Facebook is full of hate, bigotry, racism, antisemitism, and violence and promotes it at the highest level by leaning on the aforementioned sources. And it seems like Facebook is done pretending to give a shit and operating under the knowledge that the populace is too stupid, needy, and lazy to do anything about it. For every person that posts 1000 words on why they are leaving Facebook only to come back three weeks later, there are many more joining the platform.
Facebook does have options to address some of this, and while at this point it doesn’t seem like it wants to, perhaps if enough advertisers take a chunk out of the billions of dollars of advertising profit it might. Meanwhile, we should once again be reminded that social media in general is an unchecked, raw dose of humanity just spilling its bile into the void and consuming that bile without doing our own research and our own introspective is as disgusting as consuming bile sounds.
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