Verizon suspends advertising on Facebook, joins growing boycott

Friday, June 26, 2020

Verizon is the biggest yet to join the advertising boycott, which has gained the backing of dozens of U.S. companies, and its announcement was a blow to Facebook's efforts to contain the growing revolt.

"We're pausing our advertising until Facebook can create an acceptable solution that makes us comfortable," a Verizon representative said.

U.S. civil rights groups are urging brands to support the Stop Hate for Profit campaign, which protests the world's biggest social network's lax approach to hate speech, harassment and misinformation.

The Anti-Defamation League said in a letter to advertisers on Thursday it had found a Verizon ad on Facebook appearing next to a video containing anti-Semitic rhetoric from conspiracy group QAnon.

"Advertisements are running alongside divisive, hateful and conspiratorial content - not something that most companies want," the ADL said.

Ice cream brand Ben & Jerry's and outdoor gear companies Patagonia and The North Face earlier said they would suspend Facebook ads.

Facebook said it is working with civil rights organizations.

"We respect any brand's decision and remain focused on the important work of removing hate speech and providing critical voting information," said Carolyn Everson, Facebook's vice president of global business.

The company intensified outreach to advertisers this week as it worked to contain the damage, without pledging any specific changes, recipients of those messages said.

One of Facebook's top spenders, consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble Co, on Wednesday pledged to conduct a review of ad platforms and stop spending where it found hateful content. P&G declined to say if it had reached a decision on Facebook.

(Reporting by Ayanti Bera, Sheila Dang and Katie Paul; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Leslie Adler)