What started as an organized campaign to have advertisers boycott Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) looks to be organically evolving into numerous companies declaring that they're "pausing" their advertising on all social media platforms.
Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) became the latest national brand to say social media needed to do more to stop the spread of hate speech, and it was having internal discussions about how to proceed. But the coffee chain said it was not joining the "Stop Hate for Profit" campaign, the protest by the progressive Color of Change organization promoting the ad boycott.
Money not well spent
While some 160 companies have targeted Facebook and Instagram for an ad boycott, a number of companies are beginning to expand the list of tech platforms they will stop advertising on, including Coca-Cola, Diageo, and consumer products giant Unilever, which said it would stop advertising on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) for the rest of the year.
Facebook generates some $69 billion in annual revenue from advertising, while Twitter reported $3 billion worth, 55% of which comes from the U.S.
Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOG)(NASDAQ:GOOGL) seems to be avoiding the fallout, as Starbucks said its social media advertising pause did not include YouTube. That may be because YouTube had been the target of a similar activist campaign in 2017 and took measures to censor content deemed controversial. Twitter, though, has also been actively canceling views it believes are out of the mainstream, even labeling some of President Trump's tweets as "misleading."
Companies, though, were already looking to cut their advertising budgets due to the limited returns being realized because of the coronavirus pandemic.