Consumer goods giant Unilever said Friday that it would halt all ad spending on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter through the end of the year, as first reported by The Wall Street Journal. Unilever owns dozens of popular household brands like Hellmann’s mayonnaise and Dove soap, and typically spends more than $1 billion each year promoting them through various ad channels.
As of press time, Facebook’s stock had fallen more than 7 percent in the wake of the news.
“We invest billions of dollars each year to keep our community safe and continuously work with outside experts to review and update our policies,” a Facebook spokesperson told NBC News. “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.”
Twitter’s VP of global client solutions, Sarah Personette, responded to Unilever’s decision saying, “We have developed policies and platform capabilities designed to protect and serve the public conversation, and as always, are committed to amplifying voices from underrepresented communities and marginalized groups. We are respectful of our partners’ decisions and will continue to work and communicate closely with them during this time.”
Last week, organizations like the NAACP, the Anti-Defamation League, Color of Change, and Free Press launched a campaign to “Stop Hate for Profit,” urging advertisers to pull their spending on Facebook through the month of July as protests against police brutality and racism crop up across the country. Since then, over 90 companies have halted spending on the platform, including Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, and Verizon.
Unilever said that it would maintain its planned advertising investment by shifting its spending to other media.
“The complexities of the current cultural landscape have placed a renewed responsibility on brands to learn, respond and act to drive a trusted and safe digital ecosystem,” Unilever said. “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.”
The “Stop Hate for Profit” campaign launched following discussions organizations had with Facebook over its policies surrounding hate speech and misinformation. The groups took out a full-page ad in the Los Angeles Times last Wednesday urging advertisers to participate in the boycott.
“Today, we are asking all businesses to stand in solidarity with our most deeply held American values of freedom, equality and justice and not advertise on Facebook’s services in July,” the ad said. “Let’s send Facebook a powerful message: Your profits will never be worth promoting hate, bigotry, racism, antisemitism and violence.”