Facebook Refuses to Comment on Celebrity Boycott after Millions Briefly Wiped from Stock

Facebook Refuses to Comment on Celebrity Boycott after Millions Briefly Wiped from Stock

Facebook has declined to comment after a rush of high-profile celebrities joined the Stop Hate for Profit boycott movement this week.

The Mark Zuckerberg-led social network is facing renewed pressure from the coalition of civil rights groups behind the anti-hate campaign, which this week gained support from Kim Kardashian West, Sacha Baron Cohen, Mark Ruffalo and many more.

When asked what impact the proposed freeze on uploads to Facebook and Instagram would have on the platform, a spokesperson did not acknowledge the question but sent back a list of “resources with the important steps we’ve taken on these issues.”

The campaign has called for a “one-day moratorium” on uploads to protest what it calls Facebook’s “repeated failures to address hate speech and election disinformation.”

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“I can’t sit by and stay silent while these platforms continue to allow the spreading of hate, propaganda and misinformation,” Kardashian West tweeted Wednesday, calling on her fanbase to follow her lead and stop uploading for the day in protest.

The comments by Kardashian West, who has 188 million Instagram followers, appeared to cause the firm’s market value to plunge millions in the 30 minutes after her initial statement, although stock later rebounded, The Telegraph newspaper reported.

Facebook stock also fell by three percent in after-hours trading on Tuesday amid speculation about a possible Federal Trade Commission antitrust probe, MarketWatch reported.

Additional A-listers who have voiced support for the freeze this week included Leonardo DiCaprio, Amy Schumer, Katy Perry and Jamie Foxx. A campaign launched in May was supported by brands including Unilever, Starbucks, Ben & Jerry’s and Verizon.

“Advertisers, FB employees and users are fed up. Facebook—stop spreading the hate, lies and conspiracies that inflame our societies!” Baron Cohen tweeted. Avengers star Ruffalo said: “While they share empty talk about voting, they continue allowing blatant lies and misinformation on election to spread–undermining our democracy.”

In July, after the initial boycott backlash, Zuckerberg played down the impact of the ad protests, saying it was very wrong to assume Facebook is “dependent on a few large advertisers.” The most revenue is made through small businesses, he said.

“It’s true making it more difficult to target ads would affect the revenue of companies like Facebook,” he wrote. “But the much bigger cost of such a move would be to reduce the effectiveness of the ads and opportunities for small businesses to grow.”

The initial ad boycott was widespread, but had little financial consequence.

The organizations spearheading the campaign include ADL, Color of Change, NAACP, Common Sense, Free Press, National Hispanic Media Coalition and Sleeping Giants.

They are urging Facebook to “increase resources focused on monitoring groups for hate speech and violence” and commit 5 percent of its annual revenue to support groups combating racism, hate and division “enabled in part by Facebook’s inaction.”

A “week of action” toolkit published online indicates after the Instagram freeze today, participants will tomorrow call on Facebook to “stop inciting violence and spreading hate,” while Friday will be focused on election disinformation and voting.

Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP, said in a statement: “It speaks volumes that there is now widespread concern about Facebook’s complacency. The calls for Facebook to make meaningful changes to prevent the proliferation of hate and extremism on the platform are growing louder. It’s time for Facebook to act.”

Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg pauses while speaking about the new Facebook News feature at the Paley Center For Media on October 25, 2019 in New York City.
Drew Angerer/Getty

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