As the United States grows ever more politically divided, some social media platforms have abruptly decided that they actually do care about people (and politicians) spreading hate and inciting violence, and have begun to ban content and individuals that have violated their terms of service for years but have gone largely unpunished. No one has resisted the call to action more than Facebook, though, and advertisers, fearing reprisals from organized protestors, are finally leaving the platform.
As reported by multiple news sources, including Engadget and Business Insider, corporations like Starbucks, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, and beverage giant Diageo have all pulled ads from Facebook and other social media platforms as well. The reason Facebook is worth singling out is because, of all of the major social media platforms in the world, none have been as unwilling to deal with their ongoing issues of abuse, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been famously reticent to even acknowledge that his platform has problems. Considering that even Reddit has decided to crack down on online hate, Facebook hasn’t just been late to the anti-hate party, it’s been completely absent.
According to Business Insider, refusing to prevent hate speech is suddenly having major financial ramifications. Thanks to ad removals Facebook lost at least $60 billion in market value within the space of just two days, leading the company to abruptly reverse course and announce that they will, in fact, be changing their policies (a little). Of course, whether or not this will make a difference—or if companies will continue with their ad boycotts in the future—is up in the air. But still, it’s at least somewhat promising that anti-racism activists have been able to get large, typically oblivious corporations to reevaluate what it means to do business with platforms that actively make money from refusing to crack down on hate speech.