Could a boycott kill Facebook?

As Ford, Adidas, Microsoft and HP pause ads on the social network, should Facebook be worried?

Could a boycott kill Facebook?
Image copyright Reuters

Boycotts can be extremely effective - as Facebook is finding out.

In the late 18th century, the abolitionist movement encouraged British people to stay away from goods produced by slaves. It worked. Around 300,000 stopped buying sugar - increasing the pressure to abolish slavery.

The Stop Hate for Profit campaign is the latest movement to use boycott as a political tool. It claims that Facebook doesn't do enough to remove racist and hateful content from its platform.

It's convinced a series of major companies to pull advertising from Facebook and some other social media companies.

Among the latest to do so are Ford, Adidas and HP. They join earlier participants including Coca-Cola, Unilever and Starbucks. 

News site Axios has also reported that Microsoft suspended advertising on Facebook and Instagram in May because of concerns about unspecified "inappropriate content" - a development the BBC can confirm.

Meanwhile, other online platforms, including Reddit and Twitch, have piled on more pressure by taking anti-hate steps of their own.

Loss of trust

Can that boycott hurt Facebook? The short answer is yes - the vast majority of Facebook's revenue comes from ads.

David Cumming from Aviva Investors told the BBC's Today programme that the loss of trust, and a perceived absence of a moral code, could "destroy the business".

On Friday, Facebook's share price dropped by 8% - making chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, theoretically at least, £6bn poorer.

But whether this could be bigger - an existential threat to Facebook's long-term future - is far less clear.

First of all, this isn't the first boycott of a social media company.

In 2017, major brand after major brand announced they would stop advertising on YouTube - after ads were placed next to racist and homophobic videos.

That particular boycott is now almost totally forgotten. YouTube tweaked its ad policies, and three years on YouTube's parent company Google is doing just fine.

And there are more reasons to believe this boycott isn't as damaging to Facebook as you might think.

Lots of low spenders

Firstly, many companies have only committed to a one-month boycott in July.

Secondly, and perhaps more significantly, much of Facebook's advertising revenue comes from thousands and thousands of small- to medium-sized businesses.

 

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.

So far, the vast majority of medium-sized companies have not signed up.

Mat Morrison, head of strategy at advertising agency Digital Whiskey, told me there's a huge number of smaller businesses that "can't afford not to advertise".

He says that for smaller businesses - which are priced out of advertising on TV - cheaper and more focussed ads on platforms like Facebook are essential.

"The only way our business works is having access to these highly targeted audiences, that aren't mass media audiences, so we'll continue to advertise" Morrison says.

In some ways Facebook looks like a good choice of company to lobby. The structure of Facebook gives Mark Zuckerberg a huge amount of power to affect change. If he wants something, he'll get it.

You only need to change the mind of one man.

But the reverse is also true. Shareholders aren't able to put pressure on Mr Zuckerberg in the same way as other companies. If he doesn't want to act, he won't.

So far though, he has shown signs he's prepared to move. On Friday, Facebook announced it would begin to tag hateful content - and look out for further announcements this week.

These changes won't be enough to make Stop Hate for Profit go away though.

And elsewhere, others are taking action of their own.

This Monday, Reddit has banned The_Donald forum as part of a wider crackdown on "subreddits" whose members have engaged in harassment and threatening behaviour. The community was not officially linked to the President, but had helped widely spread memes that supported him, before Reddit took earlier steps to limit the posts' reach.

In addition, Twitch has temporarily banned an account run by the Trump campaign.

The Amazon-owned video-streaming site said two videos of Mr Trump's rallies that were shown on its platform had broken its rules on hateful conduct.

One dated from 2015, before he was elected, at which he had said Mexico was sending rapists to the US. The other was from earlier this month, in which the President had described a fictional "tough hombre" breaking into the home of an American woman.

"We do not make exceptions for political or newsworthy content," Twitch said in a statement.

This year is going to be a rocky year for all social media companies.

Facebook is by no means the exception. But companies will always be guided by their balance sheets.

If the boycott drags on into the autumn - and if more and more companies sign up - this could be a defining year for the social network. BBC

 
 

Other News

.
Flu virus with 'pandemic potential' found in China
Flu virus with 'pandemic potential' found in China
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  30/06/2020 

The new strain, scientists say, is carried by pigs but can infect humans and requires close monitoring.

HCM City determinedly promotes IC industry
HCM City determinedly promotes IC industry
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  30/06/2020 

The integrated circuit (IC) industry of HCM City has witnessed much development since 2017 thanks to a series of successful products that were able to attract attention of leading experts in the field. 

BKAV’s CEO: BPhone is being 'attacked' by foreign brands
BKAV’s CEO: BPhone is being 'attacked' by foreign brands
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  30/06/2020 

Nguyen Tu Quang, CEO of Bach Khoa Corporation (BKAV), the manufacturer of BPhone, said BPhone is being attacked by ‘people who receive money from foreign brands’.

HCM City determines to encourage AI development
HCM City determines to encourage AI development
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  30/06/2020 

HCMC People’s Committee has just organized a meeting about strategy planning for the national Artificial Intelligence (AI) development and preparation tasks for the upcoming Vietnam AI Festival 2020. 

Data stealing spyware VN84App attacks mobile users in Vietnam
Data stealing spyware VN84App attacks mobile users in Vietnam
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  29/06/2020 

Cyber security corporation Bkav yesterday released a warning about spyware VN84App that is currently aiming at Vietnamese mobile users. 

Quang Ngai: Near-shore coral reef threatened by tourism activities
Quang Ngai: Near-shore coral reef threatened by tourism activities
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  29/06/2020 

The near-shore coral reefs in Quang Ngai Province are being damaged by careless tourists.

Qualcomm launches first R&D facility in region in Hanoi
Qualcomm launches first R&D facility in region in Hanoi
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  29/06/2020 

Qualcomm Vietnam Company Limited has launched a new research and development (R&D) facility in Hanoi.

Diversified measures to protect the environment
Diversified measures to protect the environment
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  28/06/2020 

Nguyen Toan Thang, director-general of the HCM City Department of Natural Resources and Environment, speaks on the plan to turn HCM City into a green, clean and beautiful city.

Vietnam ready to carry out REDD+
Vietnam ready to carry out REDD+
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  27/06/2020 

A meeting was held in Hanoi on June 26 to review the project on support for preparing the readiness to carry out the international framework “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation” (REDD+) in Vietnam Phase 2 (FCPF-2).

Scientist honored for work on environmental conservation, preservation of red-shanked douc langurs
Scientist honored for work on environmental conservation, preservation of red-shanked douc langurs
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  28/06/2020 

Le Thi Trang, 34, deputy director of GreenViet, has been honored as one of 10 “Hotspot Heroes” by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF).

Wildlife supply chains for human consumption increases coronaviruses’ transmission risk to people
Wildlife supply chains for human consumption increases coronaviruses’ transmission risk to people
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  27/06/2020 

Samples taken from animals in the wild destined for human consumption contain a high proportion of coronavirus, a new study has revealed.

Vietnamese scientists say it’s difficult to commercialize their inventions
Vietnamese scientists say it’s difficult to commercialize their inventions
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  27/06/2020 

Many inventions created by scientists and research institutes cannot be applied in real life even though businesses need new technologies.

Vietnamese tech experts join transnational cyber-attack exercise
Vietnamese tech experts join transnational cyber-attack exercise
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  27/06/2020 

Tech experts of the 10 ASEAN member countries and Japan on Thursday joined an annual cyber-attack drill hosted by the Vietnam Computer Emergency Response Team (VNCERT/CC).

HCM City contest seeks AI-powered solutions
HCM City contest seeks AI-powered solutions
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  26/06/2020 

The HCM City People’s Committee’s contest for solutions and products in artificial intelligence (AI) applications is open to entries until August 5.

HCM City left gloomy amid heightened levels of air pollution
HCM City left gloomy amid heightened levels of air pollution
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  26/06/2020 

Air quality in HCM City worsened once again on the morning of June 26 with the air quality index (AQI) rising to 161, a level which is considered to be harmful to people’s health, following an evaluation of monitoring application AirVisual.

Vietnamese scientists say it’s difficult to commercialize their inventions
Vietnamese scientists say it’s difficult to commercialize their inventions
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  27/06/2020 

Many inventions created by scientists and research institutes cannot be applied in real life even though businesses need new technologies.

Fokienia trees devastated by illegal logging
Fokienia trees devastated by illegal logging
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  26/06/2020 

A tree that appeared at the same time as dinosaurs in Southeast Asia is dying under the hand of humans.

Cybersecurity law to stopper Apple cloud services
Cybersecurity law to stopper Apple cloud services
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  25/06/2020 

Apple’s cloud computing solutions may not be able to touch down in Vietnam due to conflicts with the Law on Cybersecurity that demands foreign service suppliers to store data on Vietnamese servers.

ASEAN - Japan cyber security drill held
ASEAN - Japan cyber security drill held
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  26/06/2020 

The 2020 ASEAN - Japan drill on trans-national cyber security took place online and offline on June 25 with the participation of the ten ASEAN member countries and Japan.

Water quality in Vietnam's rivers varies by region
Water quality in Vietnam's rivers varies by region
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  26/06/2020 

The water quality in the upper courses of the major river systems is good, but in urban areas or areas with many sources of waste, more polluted water exists.

 
 
 
Leave your comment on an article

OR QUICK LOGIN