The North Face has become the first major brand to boycott Facebook on the heels of mounting pressure from civil-rights organizations over the platform’s content-moderation policies and handling of hate speech in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death.
In a tweet saying “We’re in. We’re Out” the clothing company announced Friday it would stop buying Facebook ads in the US in solidarity with organizations including the NAACP, the Anti-Defamation League, and Sleeping Giants.
“We know that for too long harmful, racist rhetoric and misinformation has made the world unequal and unsafe, and we stand with the NAACP and the other organizations who are working to #StopHateforProfit,” Steve Lesnard, The North Face’s global VP of marketing, said in a statement.
A company spokesman said it was halting all US paid advertising with Facebook, effective June 19, until stricter policies are in place to stop racist, violent, and hateful content and misinformation from circulating on the platform.
Carolyn Everson, Facebook’s VP of global business group, said that the company was in conversation with marketers and civil-rights organizations about how they could work with them to “be a force for good.”
“We deeply 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.
The platform has been under fire over its content-moderation policies, particularly its handling of President Donald Trump’s posts in the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing. While it has faced criticism on its handling of user data and the spread of misinformation before, such calls have rarely translated to wider collective action against Facebook or dented its advertising business.
But advertisers say it’s different this time. IPG Mediabrands’ Elijah Harris said in a Business Insider interview last week that the reaction against Facebook was an issue of “brand safety, not political activism.”
Another ad-agency source told Business Insider their agency anticipated a number of other brands to also walk out on Facebook, as the social-media giant’s executives try to put out the fires in memos sent to various agencies this week.
Facebook, which generates 98% of its revenue through ads, took in $17.4 billion from advertising in its most recent quarter, despite marketers across the board pausing advertising in the face of the pandemic.