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Social Media Ads Pulled, Facebook Down $7.2 Billion

Starbucks is the latest major firm to join the growing list of companies – which includes the likes of Unilever, Honda Motor, Pepsi Co, and Patagonia – that have suspended their ad spending on Facebook’s social media platforms in response to the giant’s lack of policing of misleading and hateful content, particularly during the Black Lives Matter protests.

According to Bloomberg, Facebook lost $7.2 billion as shares fell by 8.3% on Friday, as more companies pulled advertising.

The majority of these firms have announced temporary boycotts, with most pausing advertising for around 30 days, but Unilever said it would stop spending money with Facebook and Twitter for the rest of the year.

After taking a hands-off approach concerning the policing of hateful content over recent weeks – particularly in terms of US President Donald Trump’s posts, which have been accused of inciting violence – Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has finally moved to addressed the issue.

However, it is still unclear what users will be able to post in the name of free speech. As such, Trump’s posts will most likely be remain on Facebook untouched. By comparison, Twitter has moved to fact-check and remove some of Trump’s tweets.

“We believe there is a public interest in allowing a wider range of free expression in people’s posts than in paid ads,” said Zuckerberg. “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.”

Facebook has also said it will implement additional steps to fight voter suppression and provide authoritative information on voting during the pandemic.

Whether these promises will be enough to entice back advertisers is yet to be seen. According to the #StopHateForProfit campaign, which targets Facebook, 99% of the social media giant’s $70 billion is made through advertising.

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