The Facebook boycott has taken a decidedly Canadian turn. Cineplex, the CIRA, and major Canadian banks are at least temporarily suspending their Facebook ads.
There’s been growing pressure all month for Facebook to essentially clean out racism on their platform. Last month, we did a rather lengthy write up on who all is boycotting Facebook as well as some of the reasoning behind suspending their ad campaigns. The campaign came about after Facebook’s management effectively became reluctant to curb hate speech and threats of violence from their platform. While some members do get the boot for violating community standards and basic human decency, bigger names like the impeached US president effectively got a free pass.
This all set up the movement to stop funding hate. Many are urging various brands to suspend their advertising campaigns on Facebook. As many know, Facebook gets a large chunk of their ad revenue from advertising. So, the thinking goes, if big companies pull their advertising, then it hurts Facebook where it hurts the most. All this is to push Facebook into cracking down on hate and racism regardless of who is spouting it.
More recently, Canadian names are getting added to the list of companies who are suspending their ad campaigns on Facebook. One of those names is the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) and Cineplex. The CIRA essentially runs the top level domain, .ca. Freezenet, of course, is under this authority and is, of course, an example. Cineplex, meanwhile, basically runs pretty much the entire movie theatre industry in Canada. While possible, it is difficult to randomly walk into a theatre that isn’t associated with Cineplex in some way. From Mobile Syrup:
In a statement sent to MobileSyrup, CIRA president Byron Holland says the organization is deeply concerned “about the degree to which Facebook is damaging trust in both the internet and society as a whole.” “CIRA will join with other industry leaders and cease advertising on any Facebook platforms. We will reevaluate our position at the end of July based on the choices Facebook makes in the coming weeks,” Holland stated. Similarly, Cineplex has confirmed that it will also be halting ad spending on Facebook as part of the campaign. “We as a company have decided to follow the group and also refrain from advertising with Facebook currently,” Cineplex CEO Ellis Jacob told BNN Bloomberg.
Joining the large boycott are the big Canadian banks. Scotia Bank, RBC, TD, CIBC, and BMO all said that they are joining the boycott over concerns for racist content on the social media platform. From the CBC:
All five of Canada’s biggest banks are joining an international boycott of Facebook over concerns that the platform is complicit in promoting racism, violence and misinformation.
Scotiabank, RBC, CIBC, BMO and TD have pledged to stop purchasing ads on the site for the month, aligning themselves with brands such as Lululemon Athletica and Mountain Equipment Co-op in signing onto the StopHateForProfit campaign.
“One way we can do that is by standing against misinformation and hate speech, which only make systemic racism more pervasive,” AJ Goodman said.
A spokesperson for Bank of Montreal told CBC News that the bank “will pause its advertising on Facebook and Instagram during the month of July, while continuing our ongoing dialogue with Facebook on changes they can make to their platforms to reduce the spread of hate speech.”
TD said it had also “paused” its advertising for the month and added that the bank is “committed to the fight against racism and hate speech and to the work needed to help create a safer and more inclusive society.”
So, the pressure is continuing to mount on Facebook to take action against racism and misinformation on their platform. Before, it was questions by people asking why Facebook hasn’t taken any action on high profile individuals who are issuing racist and sometimes violent comments on the platform. After that, the drumbeat grew louder to include employees on the inside working for Facebook. Now, it’s major brands pulling their advertising dollars from the company altogether. The only thing we’ve heard is Mark Zuckerberg is looking into the possibility of labelling comments as violating the standards when it is newsworthy, but that’s as far as things have gotten. Because of that, chances are, we’ll only see continued mounting pressure on Facebook to act.