Tech

Patagonia joins growing list of companies boycotting Facebook ads

Key Points
  • Patagonia has joined companies like REI and The North Face, saying it plans to pause advertising on Facebook and Instagram to show support for a movement called "#StopHateForProfit." 
  • The groups -- the Anti-Defamation League, the NAACP, Sleeping Giants, Color of Change, Free Press and Common Sense -- asked "large Facebook advertisers to show they will not support a company that puts profit over safety." 
  • The groups said this was in response to "Facebook's long history of allowing racist, violent and verifiably false content to run rampant on its platform."
Tourists leave the Patagonia outdoor clothing shop in Vail, Colorado. 
Robert Alexander | Getty Images

Patagonia has joined companies like REI and The North Face, saying it plans to pause advertising on Facebook and Instagram to show support for a movement called "#StopHateForProfit." 

Last week, a group of six organizations called on Facebook advertisers to pause their spending on the social media platform during the month of July. The groups -- the Anti-Defamation League, the NAACP, Sleeping Giants, Color of Change, Free Press and Common Sense -- asked "large Facebook advertisers to show they will not support a company that puts profit over safety." 

The groups said this was in response to "Facebook's long history of allowing racist, violent and verifiably false content to run rampant on its platform," adding that the company allowed its platform to be used in "widespread voter suppression efforts, using targeted disinformation aimed at Black voters," and "allowed incitement to violence against protestors fighting for racial justice in America in the wake of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks, and many others," among other claims. 

In a series of tweets attributed to the company's head of marketing, Cory Bayers, Patagonia said it would "pull all ads on Facebook and Instagram, effective immediately, through at least the end of July, pending meaningful action from the social media giant." 

"For too long, Facebook has failed to take sufficient steps to stop the spread of hateful lies and dangerous propaganda on its platform," the statement reads in part. "From secure elections to a global pandemic to racial justice, the stakes are too high to sit back and let the company continue to be complicit in spreading disinformation and fomenting fear and hatred." 

Patagonia has a history of being vocal in the political sphere. The company sued President Donald Trump a few years ago after rolling back protections on national monuments.

It comes after outdoor recreation retailer The North Face announced its intention to take the call on Friday. 

 

"We are pausing all domestic paid advertising with Facebook and Instagram through the end of July in an effort to support the implementation of stricter policies to stop racist, violent or hateful content and misinformation from circulating on the Facebook platform specifically," a spokeswoman for The North Face said in an emailed statement. "We hope they will reconsider their policies and will reevaluate our position in the next thirty days."

Later on Friday, outdoor apparel and recreation retailer REI said it was pulling all Facebook and Instagram advertising for the month of July. 

 

Upwork, a freelancing platform, said in a tweet that it was also pausing its Facebook advertising in July. In an emailed statement, the company said it was pausing advertising on both Facebook and Instagram.  "We cannot stand by and be complicit to or complacent about the spread of hate, racism, and misinformation, and that is why we are supporting the Stop Hate for Profit advocacy campaign, which calls for pausing advertising on all Facebook platforms in the month of July."

On Monday, the CMO of password management company Dashlane, Joy Howard, said in a blog post that the company would also be stopping all paid and organic posts on Facebook and Instagram through July "at minimum." 

"Stepping away from this — even for a month — will be hard for many of us. In the relentless pursuit of scale, most startups lean on performance marketing, falling into the endless cycle of 'scale spend while keeping CPAs flat,'" she writes in a blog post. "This leads to a world where 40 cents of every VC dollar goes to one of Facebook, Amazon, or Google. It's clear our industry's collective addiction to performance marketing has come at the expense of so much more than just R&D or product-market fit, and calls for a course-correction." 

Facebook reported in January that it has more than 8 million active advertisers on its platform, which in 2019 generated $69.7 billion in ad revenue. 

The pressure for big brands to pause advertising on Facebook isn't just coming from outside groups. Some agencies have encouraged their clients to pause. Last week, ad agency 360i told clients in an email that it supports the July ad boycott, according to The Wall Street Journal. Elijah Harris, senior vice president of paid social at IPG Mediabrands, part of Interpublic Group, also shared a LinkedIn post saying it was "time to hold Facebook's leadership team accountable … Let's use our collective strength to bring them to task." 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has also weighed in. Last week, she implored advertisers to use their "tremendous leverage" to push companies like Facebook to crack down on disinformation.

In response to the boycotts, Facebook shared a statement from the vice president of its global business group, Carolyn Everson. 

"We deeply respect any brand's decision, and remain focused on the important work of removing hate speech and providing critical voting information," she wrote. "Our conversations with marketers and civil rights organizations are about how, together, we can be a force for good." 

On Sunday, Facebook published a blog post titled "Actions We're Taking to Advance Racial Justice in Our Company and on Our Platform," discussing what the company says it's doing to review its policies to "build a more inclusive platform." For example, the company says it's "Reviewing potential options for handling violating or partially-violating content aside from the binary leave-it-up or take-it-down decisions." 

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