In the last couple of weeks Facebook has been on the hot seat for what it has (or rather has not) done to protect its users from hate speech and the spread of misinformation on its platform.
The social activist group Stop Hate For Profit began calling for companies large and small to boycott the Facebook ad network for the month of July in attempts to hit Facebook where it hurts the most: its wallet.
Back on June 19th, The North Face tweeted its support for the boycott — the first major company to do so.
As one of the top ad networks in the world, it doesn’t appear that Facebook will be intimidated by the revenue pressure put on them with these companies pulling out — and, as of right now, it seems the open letter will be the platform’s only real response.
“The best way to counter hurtful, divisive, offensive speech, is more speech”
This boycott is in direct backlash to Facebook’s decision to allow controversial posts to stay up, and its general approach to tackling hate speech.
Twitter, on the other hand, moved quickly, flagging tweets from President Trump, stating his messages “violated the Twitter rules about glorifying violence.” But, the platform also noted that “ it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.”
No matter what side of this debate you may be on, this all places Facebook in a very difficult situation. Do nothing and you will be called out for inaction. Take action and you will be called out for censorship.
In an interview with CNBC, Zuckerberg reaffirmed his belief that “Facebook, or internet platforms in general, should not be arbiters of truth.”
While Twitter is one of the largest social media platforms in the world, it simply does not face the same consequences as Facebook for taking actions that some see as censorship.
Twitter does not have to face this sort of existential threat when censoring world leaders largely because it is a fraction of the size of Facebook.
How long can marketers hold out?
Facebook is one of the largest and most successful advertising networks in the world, making it an important component of most marketing strategies in 2020.
The fact that some of the major brands are spending upwards of $100 million per year on the platform tells us that Facebook ads work very well.
Facebook’s political inaction and has angered the decision makers at these big spenders to the point that they are willing to sacrifice their revenue and their own business growth in order to take a stand against its actions.
The true test will be to see how long markers are willing to hold their ground, how long they are willing to sacrifice their profits for social justice.
Will customers admire their convictions or spend their money elsewhere? Only time will tell.
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