Why Companies Are Finally Holding Facebook Accountable

A number of major outdoor companies, such as North Face and REI, have joined countless other companies in a wide variety of industries when it comes to pulling out of their advertising arrangements with Facebook. In response to the #StopHateForProfit campaign, which was launched by the combined efforts of the NAACP and ADL, many companies are withdrawing their advertising from Facebook in order to financially hurt the behemoth social media company with the hope that this will finally encourage it to change its problematic behavior.

Here’s a review of Facebook’s recent behavioral mistakes, and why companies everywhere feel that they can only motivate the social media platform to change by hurting its wallet.

Facebook’s long history of wrongdoing

There’s no denying that Facebook, the largest social media platform in the world and pioneer of the modern digital landscape, has an egregious history of ethical wrongdoing. The company has callously mishandled the sensitive personal information of its users, and has often suffered from serious data breaches as a result. Rather than responding to these data breaches, Facebook has mostly spoken platitudes to regulators and failed to foster any real changes that would protect personal information. According to a report from CBS, literally hundreds of millions of individuals have been negatively impacted by Facebook’s abhorrent practices.

That’s only the tip of the iceberg, too, as Facebook has been leveraged for some truly nefarious purposes in the past. According to a blockbuster report from the New York Times, for instance, Facebook has literally been used to facilitate genocide in places like Myanmar, where nefarious actors relied upon the social media platform to facilitate ethnic cleansing campaigns. Facebook claimed that it took serious action to prevent the abuse of its platform in the wake of this scandal, but like so many times before, these were mostly hollow promises that failed to fundamentally reshape how the platform operates. 

Now, companies are sick and tired of Facebook being used to spread hateful misinformation, racism, and conspiracy theories. According to the Anti-Defamation League, which partnered up with the NAACP and others to spearhead this campaign, Facebook’s history of hate can only be thwarted by pulling advertisements from the platform. Companies like North Face and dermani Medspa Franchising are beginning to rethink using the platform for advertising purposes, as doing so proliferates hate and fills Facebooks’ wallet, thereby incentivizing it not to change its policies.

A massive list of companies has only grown larger with each passing day, adding more pressure to Facebook. Major brands like Ben and Jerry’s have decided to pull their advertising from the platform, and some brands will likely never return to the social media behemoth, given its proclivity to stave off reforms until they’re absolutely necessary. Various politicians have argued that Facebook should be more closely regulated for a wide variety of reasons, but private action taken by companies that hurts Facebook’s financial situation is far quicker than legislative action, which can take months under the best of circumstances and seldom appears at all during a competitive election season.