The current boycott of Facebook is prompted by US civil rights organizations to moderate “hate messages”
Not establishing yourself as an internet arbitrator is the maxim of the CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, a bet that has now been complicated by the advertising boycott of some large companies that consider that this policy has turned the social network into a “hate platform”.
This is the last episode of a debate that has accompanied the platform since its inception and which essentially involves defining the nature of a social network to which it connects at least once a month. a third of humanity: Is Facebook a simple forum in which everyone shares what they want or is it the largest means of communication on the planet?
The current boycott, promoted by organizations for the defense of civil rights in U.S and that they have explicitly or implicitly supported companies such as Coca-Cola, Verizon, Adidas, Ford or the British-Dutch consumer products group Unilever (one of the largest advertisers in the world) wants the Zuckerberg company to more aggressively moderate what what they consider “hate messages“
Limited impact of boycott
Entering fully into content moderation, however, “would mean prohibiting or restricting a large amount of political debate,” explains the eMarketer analyst. Eric Haggstrom, who believes that, despite the current pressures, it is not a realistic possibility for the social network.
According Haggstrom, companies that are withdrawing their advertising investment do not constitute a large percentage of the total income of Facebook, since the platform (also owner of Instagram) thrives on eight million advertisers, the vast majority of which are small and medium, and many of them digital service or product providers.
“If we were talking about a television network, losing Unilever or Coca-Cola advertising would be very important, but not so much in the case of Facebook“Says the analyst.
The companies that really depend on the social network for their advertising are not the ones that go to a general public, but those who want to optimize their investment by targeting specific groups, such as mobile video game firms, applications such as Match group (Tinder owners) or e-commerce; and the latter, for the moment, do not participate in the boycott.
Opportunism of the firms?
It is also worth asking whether the apparent enthusiasm with which these multinationals have joined the campaign does not hide other reasons, given that in the current pandemic context and economic crisis, many large companies had already advanced cuts in their advertising budget.
“It is a good way for advertisers to cut spending and put a good public relations story at the same time,” says Haggstrom in this regard, so he believes that direct rivals to Facebook like Twitter or Snap will not benefit from the boycott.
In this regard, some of the Business Supposedly participating in the boycott as Starbucks, Ford, Unilever, Coca-Cola or the manufacturer of alcoholic beverages Diageo have suspended all their advertising investment in social networks, not only on Facebook and Instagram.
The Menlo Park firm, meanwhile, is trying to dodge the controversy with shy changes in its policies and, above all, in its communication strategy, which has abandoned the blunt “no” of yesteryear that Zuckerberg received so much criticism from the media, politicians and civil leaders.
Thus, you have agreed to undergo a external audit about the methods it uses to prevent advertisements from appearing next to messages that can be considered hateful, and it has promised to alert users when a politician or someone of public relevance issues a message that violates its rules of use.
This last point is one of the most contentious, because the boycott derives in part from the refusal of Facebook to censor, partially hide, or place alerts on messages from the President of the United States, Donald Trump, something that he has been doing Twitter since May when he considers that he advocates violence or shares false information.
With information from .