Starbucks to pause advertising across social media to help stop hate speech

Facebook shares sink as Unilever, Coca-Cola pull ads

With a global advertising boycott against his platform gathering steam, Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has pledged new steps to deal with misinformation and hateful content, particularly around issues related to the upcoming U.S. elections.

Starbucks joins Coca Cola in announcing an outright suspension on all social media advertising, while other companies have announced temporary bans on Facebook ads.

In the wake of the campaign against racial discrimination, over 90 companies have paused advertising in support of #StopHateforProfit.

The company said it wants to raise "awareness of the harmful, racist content and misinformation that is shared on these social platforms".

Zuckerberg said Friday in a lengthy Facebook post, however, that the company is committed to removing content that "incites violence" or surpasses voting, "no matter where it comes from". "We hope this collective action helps catalyze positive change and accountability, and we will evaluate our advertising approach beyond July as we await Facebook's response", the company stated.

A version of this story first appeared on Campaign Asia-Pacific and has beed edited to include details of Diageo, Starbucks and Levi's joining the advertiser boycott.

On Friday, Zuckerberg said Facebook would now label all voting-related posts and expanded its definition of prohibited hate speech, adding a clause saying no advertising would be accepted if it attacks another demographic, labeling such content as "dangerous". "We've opened ourselves up to a civil rights audit, and we have banned 250 white supremacist organizations from Facebook and Instagram", a Facebook company spokesperson told ABC News in an emailed statement.

"We believe more must be done to create welcoming and inclusive online communities, and we believe both business leaders and policy makers need to come together to affect real change", the statement said.

"We know we have more work to do, and we'll continue to work with civil rights groups, Global Alliance for Responsible Media, and other experts to develop even more tools, technology and policies to continue this fight". Unilever had nearly $60 billion in revenue previous year and markets thousands of food, beverage, home care, beauty and personal care brands worldwide.

Content moderation concerns have long dogged the company, which has often landed in regulators' cross hairs as it struggles to balance freedom of speech with its responsibility to keep Facebook users safe. According to Bloomberg, the social media platform's shares fell 8.3 percent on Friday, marking the biggest drop in the past three months, due to one of the world's largest advertisers, Unilever, pulling its advertising from Facebook.

The stock rebounded somewhat on Monday afternoon after dropping further in morning trading, gaining US$3.17 to US$219.25.

Facebook's market value has since fallen by $56 billion, while Zuckerberg's net worth is now down to $82.3 billion, moving him from the third richest person in the world - behind Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates - to fourth.

Over the weekend, Zuckerberg responded to mounting criticism, explaining in a Facebook post that the company is expanding its ads policy to prohibit claims that people from a specific race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, caste, sexual orientation, gender identity or immigration status are a threat to the physical safety, health or survival of others.