A growing number of international brands, including Coca-Cola and Lululemon, suspended Facebook ads next month on allegations that the tech giant isn’t doing enough to prevent hatred and misinformation from spreading across its platform.
The #StopHateForProfit boycott – led by civil rights and advocacy groups like the Anti-Defamation League and the National Association for the Advancement of People of Color (NAACP) – aims to deprive Facebook of valuable advertising dollars until Facebook’s concerns are over resolved. Racists, white supremacists, and other extremist groups use social media sites to promote hate speech.
But big companies aren’t the only source of revenue from Facebook ads. Governments and political parties also use the site for targeted political announcements and to contact potential donors.
In Canada, the federal government spent $5.4 million on Facebook ads in the fiscal year 2018-19. The government did not say how much it spent last year.
Federal political parties have also spent a lot, buying at least $4.4 million in Facebook ads over the past 12 months.
So, with names like Coca-Cola, Verizon, Levi Strauss, and Lululemon joining the boycott, should the federal government and major political parties follow suit?
How much is spent?
An analysis of Facebook’s publicly available data shows that all of Canada’s major political parties have purchased ads on the social media platform in the past year.
Much of the spending would likely have been made during last fall’s federal election campaign, though parties have continued to advertise ever since.
Canada’s Liberal Party was the most prolific, buying nearly $2.3 million in ads on a wide range of topics, including grant applications, opinion polls, promoting the government’s ban on assault weapons, and middle-class initiatives.
Recent announcements have focused on many of the government’s decisions, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s failed campaign to win a seat on the UN Security Council, the proposed ban on firearms, and the closing of parliament amid the new coronavirus pandemic.
Facebook, meanwhile, said it has invested billions of dollars in technology designed to detect and remove hateful content from its platform. He also said he was open to outside experts to review and update his policies while trying to make his efforts more transparent.
“Due to the investments we’ve made in (artificial intelligence), we found almost 90% of the hate speech we expressed before users reported it to us, while a recent EU report found that Facebook reports more hate speech. hours compared to Twitter and YouTube ranked,” a Facebook spokesperson said in an emailed statement.