Lululemon, MEC and Arc'teryx join international brands in Facebook ad boycott

Mark Zuckerberg speaking

Mark Zuckerberg speaking

The world's largest coffee company says it is pausing advertising on all social media platforms in the US starting at the beginning of July.

Facebook shares on Friday closed down more than 8% in response to the Unilever announcement.

Facebook shares dropped by 8.32 percent, the most in three months, shedding 56 billion US dollars of its market value.

Mark Zuckerberg just became $7.2 billion (R124 billion) poorer after a flurry of companies pulled advertising from Facebook's network.

Unilever's pledge applies immediate pressure on other big companies and presents a risk to Facebook's dominant business.

The suspension of social media advertising will not include Google-owned YouTube, a company spokesperson told CNBC. "We also expect greater accountability and transparency from our social media partners" he said.

The liquor company, parent to brands including Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff, Guinness, Cîroc and Crown Royal, is pausing spend on all major social media platforms, including Twitter, globally starting July 1.

However the growing list of advertisers defecting from the platform has seen the firm reverse course on the previous policy not to police posts by politicians that would otherwise violate the platform's rules. But his remarks did not go far enough for critics.

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Calls for an advertising boycott of Facebook next month have come from the NAACP, the big civil rights group that defends African Americans' interests, and the Anti-Defamation League, which fights anti-Semitism.

Speaking to Reuters, James Steyer, CEO of the San Francisco-based non-profit, said "the next frontier" following the successful lobbying of corporations in the U.S. is "global pressure", with major European and Asian companies including Unilever and Honda to be pressed to freeze their Facebook ads globally, not just those running in the US. "They have made apologies in the past". Twitter had taken similar steps earlier. "But this has to end now".

Zuckerberg said: "Specifically, we're expanding our ads policy to prohibit claims that people from a specific race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, caste, sexual orientation, gender identity or immigration status are a threat to the physical safety, health or survival of others".

The number of coronavirus cases has surged in the intervening months, prompting many parts of the U.S. to slow or roll back re-opening efforts and giving advertisers added justification to rein in spending. And it dominates social media with more than three billion users of all its properties. "Facebook, Inc. must take the clear and unequivocal actions to stop its platform from being used to spread and amplify racism and hate", wrote the brand in a tweet on June 23.

The company said it wants to raise "awareness of the harmful, racist content and misinformation that is shared on these social platforms".

As the #StopHateForProfit campaign grew, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg pledged some changes on Friday in a post on the website.

But now, if all voting-related posts have a context link on them, the CEO will not have to make controversial decisions about their accuracy.

Facebook also expanded its definition of prohibited hate speech, adding a clause saying no ads will be allowed if they label another demographic as risky.

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