What you need to know
- Facebook has faced an exodus of advertisers over its content moderation politics.
- Viber today announced that it would join in the boycott, ending all ad spending effective immediately.
- The company also committed to removing all Facebook integration with its apps.
Viber has joined a group of companies who are boycotting Facebook over its failure to properly moderate user content. The company will cease all ad spending on Facebook immediately while it will work towards removing Facebook integration with its app including Facebook connect, Giphy support, and the Facebook SDK at the start of July.
Commenting on the boycott, Djamel Agaoua, Viber's CEO said:
Facebook continues to demonstrate poor judgment in understanding its role in today's world. From the company's mishandling of data and lack of privacy in its apps, to its outrageous stand of avoiding the steps necessary to protect the public from violent and dangerous rhetoric, Facebook has gone too far. We are not the arbiters of truth, but the truth is some people are suffering from the proliferation of violent content and companies must take a clear stand.
Viber says that Facebook's failure to act on hate speech is merely the last straw for a company that has become riddled with scandal after scandal over the past year, most notoriously the Cambridge Analytica brouhaha.
For other companies, the boycott isn't a total business shut off as with Viber, merely a cessation of advertising through July. Companies like North Face, Ben and Jerry's, Patagonia, among others have joined the #StopHateForProfit campaign.
Far from being ineffectual, the move is hitting Facebook where its wallet is, and the company is taken notice. Business Insider reported that Mark Zuckerberg sought to address advertisers concern personally this week, meeting with a select group including Anheuser-Busch InBev, Dentsu Aegis Network, Nestle, Omnicom Media Group, and Unilever:
Zuckerberg told attendees that Facebook doesn't set its policies to maximize business interests, but that its "north star" was commitment to the principles of freedom of expression and neutrality, according to a source familiar with the meeting. Another source said his explanation of Facebook's position "struck a tone."
Zuckerberg's neutrality may have struck a tone, but that it may have been the same tone that proved grating to employees a month ago. Staging a virtual walkout after publicly revolting, several of the social media's employees vociferously disagreed with the "neutral" path Zuckerberg had chosen.
"I don't know what to do, but I know doing nothing is not acceptable. I'm a FB employee that completely disagrees with Mark's decision to do nothing about Trump's recent posts, which clearly incite violence. I'm not alone inside of FB. There isn't a neutral position on racism," Facebook's Jason Stirman said last month.