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Major advertisers flee from social media as Parler use goes exponential

The campaign against Facebook has metastasised, as big brands increasingly decide all social media is too toxic for them.

Scott Bicheno

June 29, 2020

3 Min Read
Major advertisers flee from social media as Parler use goes exponential
cyber bullying concept. people using notebook computer laptop for social media interactions with notification icons of hate speech and mean comment in social network

The campaign against Facebook has metastasised, as big brands increasingly decide all social media is too toxic for them.

This is a period of unprecedented crisis for social media, which is saying something. What started as an apparently politically motivated attack on Facebook has snowballed, such that most major brands are now having a rethink about advertising on any social media, regardless of their censorship policies, due to the inherently uncontrollable nature of the content they host.

For some reason the corporate world seems to have suddenly realised that social media is different from traditional media and that the content you find on it is, by design, impossible to control. Social media companies increasingly try to censor their users in a futile bid to ensure only advertiser-friendly content appears, but it now appears their efforts have been in vain.

One after another major US advertisers are deciding that, in the current cultural environment, they’re not prepared to risk their brand being positioned next to contentious content. While Verizon singled out Facebook, massive consumer-facing companies such as Unilever, Diageo and Starbucks have announced a wholesale move of their advertising spend towards regular media, which they presumably find easier to control.

View post on Twitter

View post on Twitter

“Given our Responsibility Framework and the polarized atmosphere in the U.S., we have decided that starting now through at least the end of the year, we will not run brand advertising in social media newsfeed platforms Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in the U.S.” said a Unilever statement. “Continuing to advertise on these platforms at this time would not add value to people and society. We will be monitoring ongoing and will revisit our current position if necessary. We will maintain our total planned media investment in the U.S. by shifting to other media.”

While none of the above companies have made direct reference to the #StopHateForProfit campaign, that hasn’t stopped its representatives and anyone with an apparent agenda against Facebook from unilaterally claiming them as allies.

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The main thing the campaign seems to have achieved is to tip corporate America into concluding that paying to give their brands prominence on social media potentially does more harm than good to them. With a general election imminent, the level of partisan vitriol is bound to increase and companies have, quite sensibly, decided they’re better off out of the whole mess.

Meanwhile a new challenger to Twitter appears to have hit critical mass. Parler has seen its user base increase by hundreds of thousands in recent days, apparently as a result of a spate of account suspensions by Twitter itself. Parler makes a virtue of not censoring its users, a policy that is inevitably attractive to people that have been censored or banned from the dominant platforms.

Facebook and Twitter appear to be stuck between a rock and a hard place, in which their advertisers demand a level of censorship many of their users find unacceptable. However, many of the companies abandoning them are sticking with YouTube, which seems to have solved the puzzle of keeping brands and controversy apart. Facebook’s latest attempt to shut the stable door after the horse has bolted seems futile and it will need to take even more radical action before it wins back the trust of corporate America.

About the Author(s)

Scott Bicheno

As the Editorial Director of Telecoms.com, Scott oversees all editorial activity on the site and also manages the Telecoms.com Intelligence arm, which focuses on analysis and bespoke content.
Scott has been covering the mobile phone and broader technology industries for over ten years. Prior to Telecoms.com Scott was the primary smartphone specialist at industry analyst Strategy Analytics’. Before that Scott was a technology journalist, covering the PC and telecoms sectors from a business perspective.
Follow him @scottbicheno

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