Facebook and Instagram boycotted by major brands

Ben & Jerry’s, The North Face or Patagonia are launching a movement to denounce the inaction of the social network in the face of hateful content or calling for violence.

Ben & Jerry’s ice cream (Unilever), outdoor clothing The North Face or Patagonia, and the list could go on and on … All these brands, long present on Facebook and Instagram, two essential networks to ensure a wide visibility online, are considering or have already announced that they will boycott the two subsidiary platforms of the Facebook group at least until the end of July. During this period, they plan not to buy advertising space there to show their indignation.

The campaign, launched a week ago in the United States on the initiative of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), one of the oldest and most powerful associations for the defense of people of color, in association with Color Of Change, the Anti-Defamation League, FreePress and Sleeping Giants, have set themselves a slogan: Stop Hate For Profit (#StopHateForProfit, “No à la haine pour les profits” ).

Initiated by these associations, a movement of advertisers, who all have large communities of fans both on Facebook and on Instagram, takes up the reproaches made to the two most frequented networks on the planet (respectively one billion and 2 , 6 billion monthly active users), who would not do enough to fight against fake news or incitement to hatred, especially racial.

Facebook’s position on political advertising has so far consisted in letting things go rather than intervening to moderate its content. The group led by Mark Zuckerberg has however slightly changed its policy of moderation on this subject. Last week, after fifteen days of procrastination, Facebook for the first time broke with its position of neutrality: i in which appears an inverted red triangle, notoriously a Nazi symbol.

Competition between networks

Facebook acts under the surrounding pressure of its “Competitors”, including Twitter. Its founder, Jack Dorsey, has repeatedly expressed his disagreements with Mark Zuckerberg over moderation. Since the end of last year,. More recently, at the end of May, the platform intervened to reduce the visibility of Donald Trump’s tweets. A first. Without removing the message – considering the size “Public interest” the tweets of a US president are supposed to represent – the platform placed him behind a notice explaining that he had violated his code of conduct relating to “Glorification of violence”.

TikTok, which now has 800 million active users, has also entered the dance with an ambivalent position. On the one hand, the music video platform has become a hotbed of political activism. Thousands of K-pop fans and TikTok users have admitted to having reserved hundreds of seats in a Donald Trump meeting. The app is also considered to be one of the main spokespersons of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Censorship accusations

On the other hand, TikTok is accused of censorship by Hong Kong activists. In September 2019, revealed that the Chinese social network asked its moderators to remove videos mentioning the Tiananmen massacre or questions about the independence of Tibet. ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, refutes these accusations.

The context forces the platforms to take a more clear position. All the more so in France for example, the attempt to make networks accountable by the Avia law – which was to impose on them an obligation to remove hateful or sexual content within 24 hours – has been.

Will the advertising boycott movement take? While other brands in the United States, like the job site Upwork or the Internet company Mozilla known for its activism, are talking about joining him, others are holding back. The automotive group General Motors, through the voice of a spokesperson, indicated that he did not want to “Engage in major declarations on the platforms”.