Business

George Floyd: US phone giant Verizon joins Facebook ad boycott

People wait in line at a Verizon store during the coronavirus pandemic. Image copyright Getty Images

US telecoms operator Verizon has become the latest major company to pull advertising from Facebook platforms.

The company joins Ben and Jerry's and a growing list of firms boycotting the social media giant over its handling of controversial posts.

Verizon is believed to be the biggest advertiser so far to back the Stop Hate for Profit campaign.

Other than its namesake platform, Facebook's social media brands also include Instagram and WhatsApp.

"Our brand safety standards have not changed. We're pausing our advertising until Facebook can create an acceptable solution that makes us comfortable and is consistent with what we've done with YouTube and other partners," a Verizon spokesperson told the BBC.

In response to Verizon's announcement, Carolyn Everson, vice president for Facebook's Global Business Group, said: "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."

Last year the social network attracted advertising revenue of almost $70bn (£56bn).

Brands backing the campaign

Earlier this week, ice cream maker Ben and Jerry's and outdoor brands The North Face, Patagonia and REI were amongst the companies to back Stop Hate for Profit.

Ben and Jerry's said it is standing with the campaign and "all those calling for Facebook to take stronger action to stop its platforms from being used to divide our nation, suppress voters, foment and fan the flames of racism and violence, and undermine our democracy".

The death of an African-American man George Floyd in police custody has led to major protests around the world over the way police treat black people and highlighted racism and inequality in societies.

George Floyd died in Minneapolis in May as a white police officer held a knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

The final moments were filmed on phones. Four police officers involved have been sacked and charged over his death.

Stop Hate for Profit

The Stop Hate for Profit campaign was launched last week by advocacy groups, including the Anti-Defamation League, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the Color Of Change.

The movement has said it is a "response to Facebook's long history of allowing racist, violent and verifiably false content to run rampant on its platform".

Stop Hate for Profit has called on advertisers to pressure the company to adopt stricter measures against racist and hateful content on its platforms by stopping all spending on advertising with it throughout July.

A European Commission report this month found Facebook removed 86% of hate speech last year, up from 82.6%.

The social network, says almost all of the content which violates its policies is automatically detected by its systems and removed before it is reported.

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