By Sheila Dang and Elizabeth Culliford
(Reuters) – Unilever PLC said on Friday it will stop advertising on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in the United States for the rest of the year, citing “divisiveness and hate speech during this polarized election period in the U.S.”
The consumer goods company, which owns brands like Dove Soap and Lipton tea, joins a growing advertising boycott against Facebook as part of the “Stop Hate for Profit” campaign started by U.S. civil rights groups after the death of George Floyd. The effort called on Facebook, which owns Instagram, to do more to stop hate speech and misinformation.
Shares of Facebook and Twitter both fell more than 7%.
“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,” Unilever said in a statement.
“The Stop Hate for Profit” campaign asks businesses not to advertise on Facebook’s services in July. It focuses on specific recommendations for Facebook, though Twitter has also long been under pressure to clean up alleged abuses and misinformation on its platform.
“We have developed policies and platform capabilities designed to protect and serve the public conversation, and as always, are committed to amplifying voices from under-represented communities and marginalized groups,” said Sarah Personette, vice president for Twitter’s Global Client Solutions.
“We are respectful of our partners’ decisions and will continue to work and communicate closely with them during this time.”
More than 90 advertisers including Verizon Communications Inc and The North Face, a unit of VF Corp, have joined the campaign, according to a list by ad activism group Sleeping Giants, a partner in the campaign.
Earlier this week, ice-cream maker Ben & Jerry’s, a unit of Unilever, said it would pull its Facebook and Instagram ads in the United States.
In a statement, a Facebook spokeswoman pointed to its civil rights audit and investments in Artificial Intelligence that allow it to find and take action on hate speech.
“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,” she said, referring to the Global Alliance for Responsible Media.
Other groups in the campaign include the NAACP, Anti-Defamation League, Common Sense, Free Press and Color of Change.
Reporting by Sheila Dang and Elizabeth Culliford; Editing by Dan Grebler, Jonathan Oatis and Richard Chang