Ben & Jerry’s, Eddie Bauer join Facebook ad boycott

Ben & Jerry’s and Eddie Bauer have joined a Facebook advertising boycott over concerns about how the social-media giant handles hate speech.

The ice-cream brand and the sportswear retailer pledged Tuesday to pause Facebook and Instagram ad spending for July in support of the “#StopHateForProfit” campaign launched by a coalition of civil-rights groups.

In a statement, Ben & Jerry’s said it backs calls “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 Vermont-based creamery said it would halt paid Facebook ads as of July 1, while Washington-based Eddie Bauer said it would stop spending “effective immediately”.

The companies were among the latest additions to a growing list of brands supporting advocates’ demands for Facebook to more aggressively tackle hate speech and misinformation. The North Face, Patagonia, outdoor retailer REI, film distributor Magnolia Pictures and freelancing platform Upwork have all joined the boycott campaign since its launch last week.

The NAACP, the Anti-Defamation League and other groups want big corporations to halt Facebook ad spending for a month over the company’s “long history of allowing racist, violent and verifiably false content.” The groups want Facebook to stop generating ad revenue from harmful content and offer more support to people targeted by racism, anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred.

Ben & Jerry’s CEO Matthew McCarthy indicated Monday that the politically engaged brand would join the boycott but said further action would be necessary to combat systemic racism. Unilever, the brand’s parent company, has not committed to a company-wide boycott of Facebook ads, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Facebook is having discussions with marketers and civil-rights groups about “how, together, we can be a force for good,” according to Carolyn Everson, vice president of the company’s Global Business Group.

“We respect any brand’s decision, and remain focused on the important work of removing hate speech and providing critical voting information,” Everson said in a statement.

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