Bayer, Corteva among companies stepping off Facebook

Major firms pledge to pause advertising for July

A couple of major players in the agriculture sector are on an expanding list of major companies pausing advertising on Facebook for the month of July in pursuit of policy changes at the U.S.-based social media giant.

Bayer and Corteva Agriscience recently announced they have joined the #stophateforprofit campaign, backed by organizations including the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), NAACP, LULAC, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, Common Sense, Free Press, Color of Change and Sleeping Giants and not-for-profit software firm Mozilla.

The campaign bills itself as a means to “convince social media companies to finally put people over profit” and asks advertisers to pause ad spending on Facebook — and on Facebook-owned Instagram — for July.

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The campaign’s founding organizations “have been working with Facebook for years and we’ll continue to work with them” in the future, but say that “when it comes to dealing with rampant hate and harassment, the platform continues to come up short.”

Facebook’s “hate speech, incitement and misinformation policies are inequitable. Their harassment victim services are inadequate. Their advertising placement’s proximity to hateful content is haphazard,” the groups said on the campaign site.

“Every day, we see ads from companies placed adjacent to hateful content, occupying the same space as extremist recruitment groups and harmful disinformation campaigns… at the expense of vulnerable and marginalized communities who are often targets of hate groups on Facebook.”

Among its other recommendations, the campaign calls for Facebook to allow independent audits of “identity-based hate and misinformation;” to refund advertisers whose ads turn up next to content later removed for violating terms of service; and to find and remove “public and private groups focused on white supremacy, militia, antisemitism, violent conspiracies, Holocaust denialism, vaccine misinformation and climate denialism.”

In a statement on social media announcing its participation, Corteva said its purpose, “to enrich the lives of those who produce and those who consume, ensuring progress for generations to come” is at “the centre of all decisions we make as a company.”

The ag chem firm said it aims to “lead the agriculture industry in a way that is equitable for all people, current and future generations” and will also be “taking a hard look at additional, meaningful actions to address racism and hate speech.”

Bayer confirmed via email Tuesday it has “made a global commitment to halt advertising with Facebook this month” including its Canadian business and all divisions.

The chemical firm said Tuesday it “believes in, and actively supports, both freedom of speech and freedom of the press” and at the same time “is strongly committed to fostering, cultivating and preserving a culture of inclusion, diversity, equality and respect for all.”

Other major firms taking part in the advertising pause include food and consumer product manufacturers such as Diageo, Unilever, Beam Suntory, Hershey and J.M. Smucker and drugmaker Pfizer.

Facebook global affairs vice-president Nick Clegg, in a statement last week on the company’s website, said it “does not profit from hate.”

Users, he said, “don’t want to see hateful content, our advertisers don’t want to see it, and we don’t want to see it. There is no incentive for us to do anything but remove it.”

In a separate statement Tuesday, campaign organizers said after a meeting with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and company brass that it was clear the company “is not yet ready to address the vitriolic hate on their platform.” — Glacier FarmMedia Network

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Dave Bedard

Editor, Daily News, Glacier FarmMedia Network. A Saskatchewan transplant in Winnipeg.

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