“The complexities of the current cultural landscape have placed a renewed responsibility on brands to learn, respond and act to drive a trusted and safe digital ecosystem,” Unilever said in a release. “We will not run brand advertising in social media newsfeed platforms Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in the US.”
Unilever, which bills itself as the world’s second largest advertiser in terms of media spend, has a roughly $8 billion marketing budget, according to its 2019 annual report. After Unilever made the announcement, Facebook shares fell more than 6% and Twitter shares fell as much as 7%.
On Friday, Twitter said it’s a place where people can express themselves freely and safely.
“We have developed policies and platform capabilities designed to protect and serve the public conversation,” said Sarah Personette, Twitter’s vice president of global client solutions, in an emailed statement. “We are respectful of our partners’ decisions and will continue to work and communicate closely with them during this time.”
Facebook on Friday said it invests billions of dollars each year to keep its community safe and has banned 250 white supremacist organizations from its sites. The company said it’s also invested in AI to find hate speech before it is reported by Instagram and Facebook users.
“We know we have more work to do, and we’ll continue to work with civil rights groups, GARM, and other experts to develop even more tools, technology and policies to continue this fight,” said a Facebook company spokesperson in a statement.
Unilever said that “continuing to advertise on these platforms at this time would not add value to people and society.”
Unilever’s decision comes amid the ACLU boycott, which began earlier this month when six civil rights groups called on businesses to stop advertising on Facebook in July to push the social media giant to do more to combat hate speech and misinformation. Nearly 100 brands have reportedly joined the effort, including Verizon, ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s (which is owned by Unilever) and outdoor clothing brand The North Face.