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Verizon has joined the advertising boycott against Facebook and Instagram in an effort to put pressure on the social media giants to take action against hate speech and misinformation on their platforms.
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“Our brand safety standards have not changed. We have strict content policies in place and have zero tolerance when they are breached, we take action," Verizon Chief Media Officer John Nitti said in a statement to FOX Business. "We're pausing our advertising until Facebook can create an acceptable solution that makes us comfortable and is consistent with what we've done with YouTube and other partners."
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Verizon joins a growing list of companies showing their support for the #StopHateForProfit campaign by civil rights groups including the NAACP, the Anti-Defamation League and Color of Change.
Companies who have joined the boycott include Ben & Jerry's, Patagonia, The North Face, Eddie Bauer and Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI).
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Facebook did not immediately respond to FOX Business' request for comment on the move by Verizon but has previously said that it "respect[s] any brand’s decision, and remain focused on the important work of removing hate speech and providing critical voting information."
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In an open letter to Facebook advertisers from the Anti-Defamation League on Thursday, CEO and National Director Jonathan Greenblatt said the platform "continues to come up short" when dealing with "rampant hate and harassment."
"Every day, we see ads from companies placed adjacent to hateful content, occupying the same space as extremist recruitment groups and harmful disinformation campaigns," Greenblatt said. "Your ad buying dollars are being used by the platform to increase its dominance in the industry at the expense of vulnerable and marginalized communities who are often targets of hate groups on Facebook."
He noted one example where a Verizon advertisement appeared "next to a video from the conspiracy group QAnon drawing on hateful and antisemitic rhetoric, warning that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is planning to bring on civil war with concentration camps and coffins at the ready and claiming Americans are already quarantined in militarized districts."
The letter also referenced an ad from auto insurance company Geico appearing alongside "an antisemitic and racist conspiracy post accusing George Soros of funding Black civil rights efforts in order to fuel martial law."
"Given where Facebook is now, improvement is not that hard," Greenblatt added. "Clamp down on common misinformation and conspiracies. Stop recommending hate. Make a number of clear, common-sense changes to ameliorate and mitigate hate – we’ve made a list. Provide human beings to help people when they are being brutally harassed."
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The move by Verizon comes the same day as a report by the Wall Street Journal that Facebook held a conference call Tuesday to contain the boycott by persuading more big-name advertisers not to pull ads as some are beginning to seriously consider it.
In addition to the conference call, the Wall Street Journal obtained an email sent to advertisers last weekend from Carolyn Everson, vice president of Facebook's Global Business Group.
“We do not make policy changes tied to revenue pressure,” Everson wrote in the email. “We set our policies based on principles rather than business interests.”
Facebook’s U.S. revenue from digital advertising is expected to rise about 5 percent this year to $31.43 billion, according to eMarketer.
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