Could Ad Boycott Shake Some Sense into Facebook?

by | Jun 30, 2020

A number of civil rights organizations have called on brands to join in on a one-month ad pause in July. Growing concerns regarding Facebook’s ad policies have led to the next big social movement. A deafening silence is about to take place on Facebook in the next month.

This is a direct result of Facebook’s lack of action regarding misinformation promoted by elected officials since the last U.S. presidential election. After Twitter made the big move to flag and limit engagement with any tweets containing misinformation, many had hopes that Facebook would follow suit.

Who’s Participating?

Over 240 brands of all sizes have pledged to participate in the pause, and the list continues to grow. This includes big names like Coca-Cola, Levi’s, Verizon, Target, and Starbucks. Some have even made the decision to pause content across all social media channels.

One of the biggest heavy hitters to join the movement was Unilever, which resulted in Facebook’s shares dropping 8.3%. This leaves CEO Mark Zuckerberg $7.2 billion poorer and losing his spot as the third richest person in the world.

Companies of all sizes are attempting to avoid being held publicly accountable by their audience for not taking a strong stance on Black Lives Matter or COVID-19.

In response, Zuckerberg announced via live broadcast that Facebook will be broadening their policies regarding hate speech and misinformation.


We're going to start labeling content that we find newsworthy that might otherwise violate our policies. A handful of times a year, we make a decision to leave up content that would otherwise violate our policies because we consider that the public interest value outweighs the risk of that content.

– Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook CEO

Is This Enough?

Labeling content is a step in the right direction, but many do not see it as a complete victory. Allowing questionable or misleading “public interest value” ads to stay on the platform at all can still be harmful to audiences.

Without a seismic shift in the digital landscape, we can’t argue that Facebook isn’t an effective advertising tool for most brands, especially small businesses with limited budgets. Averaging 2.6 billion monthly active users, Facebook contains the most diverse demographic out of all social platforms. With detailed targeting options, dynamic campaign objectives and affordable costs per click (CPC), Facebook remains one of the top digital resources for advertisers.

However, Facebook’s vetting process for advertising content (especially pieces that perpetuate misinformation) is a broken system that needs to be fixed in a way that protects audiences and doesn’t penalize advertisers acting in good faith.

Protesting organizations are hopeful the July boycott will clearly communicate that Facebook’s internal processes are long due for an overhaul. Ad costs are expected to drop significantly in July with the lack of major competitors.

How We Can Help

As a brand, it’s important that you stay on the pulse of emerging social movements and formulate an action plan accordingly. When considering your next steps, you may face some hard decisions.

Is it in your brand’s best interest to continue advertising as normal or join the one-month Facebook advertising boycott? How could your response to this boycott or the other ongoing crises potentially affect your business in the long run?

Smirk has been actively answering those questions and more for our clients as well as helping them navigate the current climate in the way that’s individual to their brand. Our team would love to help you strategize and determine the appropriate next steps. Connect with a Smirk team member.


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