Unilever has announced that it will pull its advertising from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram—joining the campaign to pressure the social media companies to do more to combat hate speech and disinformation on their sites. Unilever owns a list of well-known consumer brands, including Dove, Lipton, Hellmann's, and Vaseline. Unilever said in a statement Friday that "continuing to advertise on these platforms at this time would not add value to people and society," reports Business Insider. Ben & Jerry's, also owned by Unilever, had said separately it was joining Patagonia, the North Face, REI, Eddie Bauer, and other companies in pulling ads. The companies have committed to boycotts of varying lengths; Unilever said its will last the rest of the year.
Many smaller companies aren't sure what they'll do. An executive at an ad agency said they're counting on the ads to help them gear back up after the pandemic lockdown, per the New York Times, especially on Facebook. "You don’t want to support it," he said, "but you have to use it in order to reach a large audience." The campaign was begun by civil rights groups, which didn't include Twitter in their appeal for a boycott; the company has become a target regardless. Facebook said Friday that it will work with the civil rights groups and others to develop policies and tools against hate speech. Twitter released a statement saying it's "respectful of our partners' decisions" and will continue to communicate with the advertisers. By one count, Unilever paid Facebook $42.3 million for ads in the past year, per the Wall Street Journal. (Read more Facebook stories.)