Will Facebook survive the Boycott?
Ford, Adidas, HP, Unilever and Starbucks have joined other participants to boycott advertising on Facebook.
The Stop Hate for Profit campaign is the latest movement to use boycott as a tactic to highlight a political and cultural issue. These huge brands are claiming that Facebook is not tackling the problem and is not doing enough to remove racist and hateful content from their platform.
In reality how much will this hurt Facebook?
CNN reports that the highest-spending 100 brands accounted for $4.2bn in Facebook advertising last year - or about 6% of the platform's ad revenue, this is because the majority of the revenue comes from small to medium sized businesses, who rely on this exposure to continue to bring in revenue.
With the economic climate that we find ourselves in, most of these smaller businesses will be placing more emphasis on their ad spend. They are priced out of TV ads which draws them to platforms such as Facebook. The ads are cheaper and can be targeted to their specific audience. Along with the changing consumer habits, this is certainly not an area where small to medium sized businesses can afford to neglect.
Secondly, the majority of these larger brands have signed up for July and currently there is no indication that this will continue any longer.
Thirdly, the way that a lot of these platforms work is that the advertising space is sold within an auction, so the lost advertisers will ultimately be replaced by another advertiser.
If it doesn’t hurt the bottom line, does it hurt the brand?
As I stated above, most of these larger brands have signed up for July only, however there are a number of brands that are looking at Social Media as the problem.
Unilever have said that they will stop advertising on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram until the end of the year as they become increasingly uncomfortable with the content on each of these platforms.
However, with the way that the user operates on these platforms, is it not near impossible to completely eradicate the controversial content.
In reality, what is Facebook doing compared to other platforms?
Q1 of 2020 saw Facebook remove 9.6 million pieces of content including Hate Speech. This was up from 5.7 million in Q4 of 2019. Facebook claim that 88 percent of that was found before reaching the eyes of general users.
The graph below details how far Facebook has come over the years compared to their rival platforms, up until the end of 2019.
This graph is important to show how far Facebook has come, however this only details the content which was assessed. The challenge that these platforms have is the process of removing the hate content. Who assesses the content and under what regulations is the content removed is really the deciding factor on whether they begin to make a difference.
These platforms are utilising IT companies to monitor these notifications of hate content and it is interesting to see the results.
• Overall, IT companies removed 71% of the content notified to them, while 29% remained online. This is in line with the average of 71.7% recorded one year ago
• Facebook removed 87.6% of the content, YouTube 79.7%, and Twitter 35.9%.
Read the full report here
So looking at these results it clearly shows that Facebook is leading the way and trying to improve the situation, so why does it seem that all the focus is targeted towards Facebook?
Facebook has this morning, 1st July 2020 rolled out a number of new initiatives to combat the problem.
Making the announcement overnight, Facebook VP of global news partnerships Campbell Brown and product manager Jon Levin have detailed:
“Original reporting plays an important role in informing people around the world, from breaking a news story, to creating an in-depth investigative report, uncovering new facts and data, sharing critical updates in times of crisis, or broadcasting eyewitness reports,” they said.
“This important journalism takes time and expertise, and we want to ensure that it’s prioritized on Facebook."
“We will now prioritize articles in News Feed that we identify as original reporting on a developing story or topic.”
Again, this demonstrates that Facebook are leading the way and trying everything to combat the problem, however would they be acting so swiftly if their share price hadn’t dropped 8% because of this campaign.
In reality, do we care that this campaign is targeted towards Facebook if the result means that there is an overall change to Social Media and how content is posted and assessed?
All of these platforms have a responsibility to manage their content and the more emphasis on this the better for all of society.