Walt Disney has “dramatically” slashed its advertising budget on Facebook and the company’s Instagram platform, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
It’s the latest setback for the social network, which is facing a growing advertising boycott over its policies and actions on hate speech on its platforms. The Journal, citing anonymous sources, said the time frame for Disney’s pullback was not clear.
More than 200 brands have joined the ad boycott against Facebook, including Adidas, Chipotle, Clorox, Coca-Cola, Conagra, Denny’s, Ford, HP, Pfizer, Puma, Starbucks and Unilever. The companies say Facebook is letting hateful or false posts go unchecked. Companies are distancing themselves from the social media platform as public pressure mounts for corporations to denounce racism, according to experts, while noting that it remains to be seen if the boycott persists.
The boycott stems from the #StopHateforProfit campaign, which calls on big brands to pull ad spending from Facebook. Civil rights organizations have called for an ad boycott of Facebook, saying the company doesn’t do enough to stop racist and violent content.
The campaign has so far cost Facebook at least $150 million, according to Oppenheimer analysts. That represents less than 1% of the $17 billion in ad revenue Facebook pulled in during the first quarter of 2020.
Although the Journal report did not say whether Disney is officially joining the ad boycott, the entertainment giant was Facebook’s biggest U.S. advertiser for the first six months of 2020, according to research firm Pathmatics. Disney spent $225 million for ads on Facebook and Instagram in the past six months.
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Disney has not responded to requests for seeking comment. Last week, the entertainment giant finished reopening all its Orlando-based theme parks at Walt Disney World Resort. The openings came as coronavirus cases are surging in Florida.
Facebook said it does not comment on individual advertisers. The company said in an email to the Associated Press that it invests “billions of dollars each year to keep our community safe and continuously work with outside experts to review and update our policies.”
According to the Journal report, Facebook executives met with civil rights groups earlier this month to discuss ad content. The civil rights groups walked away from the Zoom meeting believing Facebook wasn’t doing enough to curb hate speech.
“We will be judged by our actions, not by our words, and are grateful to these groups and many others for their continued engagement,” Facebook said in a statement after the meeting. “We know we have more work to do, and we’ll continue to work with civil rights groups and other experts to develop even more tools, technology and policies to continue this fight.”