Diageo to stop advertising on social media

The liquor giant spent $94.9 million on Facebook advertising in the US alone in 2019, according to estimates by analytics platform Pathmatics.

Beer and spirits company Diageo is pressing pause on paid advertising on major social media platforms globally beginning 1 July, amidst a series of recent Facebook ad boycotts that include companies such as Coca-Cola and Unilever.

Facebook employees staged a virtual walkout earlier this month after company executives declined to add a warning label to President Trump's post that looting would lead to shooting during nationwide protests against racial inequality. "We believe more must be done to create welcoming and inclusive online communities, and we believe both business leaders and policy makers need to come together to affect real change".

Free Press and Common Sense, along with US civil rights groups Color of Change and the Anti-Defamation League, launched the campaign following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man killed by Minneapolis police. "Let's send Facebook a powerful message: Your profits will never be worth promoting hate, bigotry, racism, antisemitism and violence", the campaign website said.

Starbucks appears to be biggest Facebook advertiser to date to pause ads on the platform. He has not addressed the advertising boycotts so far.

Starbucks on Sunday announced it was immediately suspending all of its advertising on "all social media platforms", becoming the latest company to suspend social media advertising in the wake of criticism that companies aren't doing enough to protect users from hate speech.

Starbucks joined Coca Cola in announcing an outright ban across social-media companies.

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Stop Hate for Profit acknowledges that much of the platform's issues cannot be solved in a month, but have a list of first steps they say the company can make in good faith to start addressing the issue.

Other brands joining the pause late last week or over the weekend include Beam Suntory and American Honda (the latter's estimated 2019 U.S. Facebook spend was $6 million). The social-media giant makes almost all of its revenue from advertising. "More needs to be done to protect those values on the world's biggest social platforms, and to end hate speech online, and we stand in support of this much-needed change".

No single company can significantly dent growth at Facebook, which generated US$17.7 billion (S$24.6 billion) in revenue last quarter alone.

Following the bloodbath, the CEO of Facebook said that the network is going to expand its definition of prohibited hate speech.

On Friday, Zuckerberg said Facebook would now label all voting-related posts and expanded its definition of prohibited hate speech, adding a clause saying no advertising would be accepted if it attacks another demographic, labeling such content as "dangerous".

"The investments we have made in artificial intelligence mean that we find almost 90 per cent of Hate Speech we action before users report it to us, while a recent European report found Facebook assessed more hate speech reports in 24 hours than Twitter and YouTube", the company said in an email.

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