Starbucks suspends social media ads over hate speech

The coffee giant said it would pause advertising on some platforms in an effort to address hate speech.

Starbucks has announced it will suspend advertising on some social media platforms in response to hate speech.

The coffee giant joins global brands including Coca-Cola, Diageo and Unilever which have recently removed advertising from social platforms.

A Starbucks spokesperson told the BBC the social media "pause" would not include YouTube, owned by Google.

"We believe in bringing communities together, both in person and online," Starbucks said in a statement.

The brand said it would "have discussions internally and with media partners and civil rights organizations to stop the spread of hate speech". But it will continue to post on social media without paid promotion, it said. 

The announcement came after Coca-Cola called for "greater accountability" from social media firms.

Coca Cola said it would pause advertising on all social media platforms globally, while Unilever, owner of Ben & Jerry's ice cream, said it would halt Twitter, Facebook and Instagram advertising in the US "at least" through 2020.

The announcements follow controversy over Facebook's approach to moderating content on its platform - seen by many as too hands off. It came after Facebook said on Friday it would begin to label potentially harmful or misleading posts which have been left up for their news value.

 

Founder Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook would also ban advertising containing claims "that people of a specific race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, caste, sexual orientation, gender identity or immigration status" are a threat to others.

The organisers of the #StopHateforProfit campaign, which has accused Facebook of not doing enough to stop hate speech and disinformation, said the "small number of small changes" would not "make a dent in the problem".

Starbucks said that while it was suspending advertising on some social platforms, it would not join the #StopHateForProfit campaign. More than 150 companies have paused advertising in support of #StopHateforProfit.

Coca-Cola also told CNBC its advertising suspension did not mean it was joining the campaign, despite being listed as a "participating business".

The campaign has urged Mr Zuckerberg to take further steps, including establishing permanent civil rights "infrastructure" within Facebook; submitting to independent audits of identity-based hate and misinformation; finding and removing public and private groups publishing such content; and creating expert teams to review complaints.

In an interview with Reuters, one of the campaign's organisers said it would also call on European firms to join the boycott. "The next frontier is global pressure," said Jim Steyer, the chief executive of Common Sense Media. He added that the campaign hoped European regulators would take a harder stance on social media firms such as Facebook.

In June, the European Commission announced new guidelines for companies to submit monthly reports on how they are handling coronavirus-related misinformation.

Last year, Facebook reported a 27% increase in advertising revenue on the previous year. BBC

 
 

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