Bigger brands can afford to take their ad budgets elsewhere – less so with direct-to-consumer brands.
- Over 500 companies, well-known consumer brands among them, have announced that they will not advertise on Facebook-owned media properties until the company curbs hate speech on its platform.
- Facebook is likely to sustain minimal damages at the hands of the #StopHateForProfit movement, because the lion's share of potential participants depend on the platform for business, and it isn't mutual.
- Even if all 100 of Facebook's top ad buyers were to suddenly freeze their campaigns and participate in the boycott, that would still only represent 6% of the platform's income.
Who has joined? (And who hasn't?)<p>Over <a href="https://www.stophateforprofit.org/participating-businesses" target="_blank">500 companies</a>, including LEGO, Adidas, Unilever, Dunkin, Walgreens, Patagonia, and Target have announced that they will not work with Facebook until the company takes action to address misinformation and hate speech on its platform. While this might sound impressive on the surface, a <a href="https://edition.cnn.com/2020/07/01/tech/facebook-top-advertisers/index.html" target="_blank">CNN analysis</a> of Facebook's top advertisers found that the overwhelming majority of Facebook's 100 biggest ad spenders have yet to join the movement. Of the top 25 ad spenders, accounting for almost 3 percent of Facebook's revenue in 2019, only three have joined the boycott. These are Microsoft, Starbucks, and pharma giant Pfizer.</p><p>Of course, despite all the negative press and relatively high volume of companies joining the boycott, Facebook's ad revenues are still a juggernaut. Looking at data from the past few years, and projecting where things are headed, as a recent <a href="https://commonthreadco.com/blogs/coachs-corner/ecommerce-trends-future" target="_blank">direct-to-consumer e-commerce report</a> from Common Thread Collective points out, demand for paid media on the platform is unlikely to wane any time soon.</p>
The socially dependent long tail<p>Sure, larger consumer brands are attracted to Facebook's audience targeting capabilities, massive reach, and measurable results. But for household names, running campaigns on Facebook is only one cog in a much larger machine.</p><p>Consider Levi Strauss, a classic consumer brand, as an example. They're participants in the #StopHateForProfit boycott, but this company advertises with any number of media types, including banner ads on content websites, TV spots, and posters in subway cars. What's more, their ad campaigns are generally more about branding than direct sales. </p><p>Levi's manages sales channels for both wholesale and retail e-commerce and distributes goods via scores of retail partners, and they have some 15,000 franchised Levi's stores. When a brand like this stops advertising on Facebook, their brand awareness and sales are unlikely to take a significant hit, largely due to the diversity of their promotional and sales channel mix.</p>
How big a deal is DTC?<p>Overall, online sales continue to grow, with <a href="https://www.statista.com/statistics/379112/e-commerce-share-of-retail-sales-in-us/" target="_blank">nearly 14 percent</a> of U.S. total retail sales estimated to come from e-commerce channels by 2021.</p><p>While DTC brands occupy only <a href="https://www.emarketer.com/newsroom/index.php/us-direct-to-consumer-ecommerce-sales-will-rise-to-nearly-18-billion-in-2020/" target="_blank">2.6 percent of the U.S. e-commerce market</a>, this year will likely see a 24 percent increase, making these brands a force to be reckoned with. </p>
Facebook’s response<p>It may seem like Facebook is too big of a force to be hurt by this situation. An estimated <a href="https://www.emarketer.com/content/uptick-us-adults-social-media-usage-will-likely-normalize-post-pandemic?ecid=NL1001" target="_blank">51 percent of U.S. adults</a> are using social media at higher rates during the pandemic, generating massive growth for Facebook, which also owns WhatsApp and Instagram.</p><p>Facebook collected more than <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/29/business/dealbook/facebook-boycott-ads.html#:~:text=A%20boycott%20of%20advertisers%20on,Who's%20doing%20what." target="_blank">$17 billion in advertising revenue</a> in the first quarter of 2020. Losing big brand ad spending is painful, but because the bulk of the company's ad revenues come from DTC brands and other smaller companies that rely heavily on the platform to drive direct e-commerce sales, it's unlikely that Zuckerberg will feel the need to make any meaningful changes.</p><p>Facebook said in a statement that they are taking steps to "keep hate off of our platform" and added, "We know we will be judged by our actions not by our words and are grateful to these groups and many others for their continued engagement."</p><p>Facebook is also rolling out modifications to curb the spread of misinformation and hate speech, but the groups spearheading the boycott movement don't think that this is enough.</p><p>"This isn't over. We will continue to expand the boycott until Facebook takes our demands seriously," Jessica J. González, the co-CEO of Free Press <a href="https://www.freepress.net/news/press-releases/stophateforprofit-sees-no-commitment-action-meeting-between-campaign-leaders" target="_blank">said in a statement</a>. "We won't be distracted by Facebook's spin today or any day. Mark, Sheryl and their colleagues have much work to do to make Facebook a better place for everyone, and they need to get it done now."</p><p>The problem, however, is arguably far harder to address than many of those protesting Facebook would acknowledge. The idea of user-generated content as a model for mass media was all well and good two decades ago, when it was fresh, but once it's been weaponized by foreign instigators, Boogaloo groups and neo-Nazis, you can't really put the cat back into the bag.</p>
Closing remarks<p>Ultimately, Facebook knows that consumer brands need it more than it needs them. While the mounting pressure is forcing Facebook to expand its brand safety ad policies and take proactive steps to limit the spread of hate and harmful content, at the end of the day, the giant and its shareholders won't likely suffer a major blow to revenue. Managing and mitigating the Wild West of social media remains a dubious mission at best. </p>
Got any embarrassing old posts collecting dust on your profile? Facebook wants to help you delete them.
- The feature is called Manage Activity, and it's currently available through mobile and Facebook Lite.
- Manage Activity lets users sort old content by filters like date and posts involving specific people.
- Some companies now use AI-powered background checking services that scrape social media profiles for problematic content.
Social media background checks<p><br></p><p>Now, the feature could bring users some peace of mind. After all, the platform currently has more than <a href="https://www.statista.com/statistics/264810/number-of-monthly-active-facebook-users-worldwide/#:~:text=How%20many%20users%20does%20Facebook,network%20ever%20to%20do%20so." target="_blank">2.6 billion monthly active users</a>, and some of these users created accounts in their teens, around the time Facebook became widely available in 2006. As these veteran users get older, it seems likely that many would want to delete years-old posts, whether because content is embarrassing, outdated or professionally jeopardizing.</p><p>Some employers now use automated or <a href="https://www.goodegg.io/blog/is-this-legal-and-other-social-media-screening-faqs" target="_blank">third-party background</a> checks that scrape candidates' social media accounts. These checks can search for content that's racist, sexually explicit, criminal or otherwise offensive. </p><p>But they're not always accurate. One AI-powered background service called <a href="https://www.vox.com/recode/2020/5/11/21166291/artificial-intelligence-ai-background-check-checkr-fama" target="_blank">Checkr has even faced lawsuits</a> from people who claim the company's algorithms made mistakes that cost them job opportunities.</p>
How to use Manage Activity<iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Ffacebookapp%2Fvideos%2F707969696627907%2F&show_text=0&width=560" width="560" height="353" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true" allowFullScreen="true"></iframe><p>It's unclear when Manage Activity will become available on desktop. But to learn how to use it on mobile or Facebook Lite, check out this instructional video from Facebook.</p>
This could become a standard feature one day.
- Facebook has begun hiding 'like counts' in Australia.
- Earlier this month, a reverse engineer predicted that this would be the case.
- The new feature may help in reducing envy and other ill-fated social effects.
Facebook hiding Likes<p>Facebook hiding like counts was originally spotted by reverse engineer Jane Manchun Wong. It was <a href="https://bigthink.com/politics-current-affairs/facebook-remove-likes" target="_self">predicted earlier this month</a> that Facebook was going to begin publicly testing its hidden Like features sooner than later. The new tests will be running alongside Instagram's pilot hidden Like count initiative as well, whereas Instagram began first testing it in Canada before expanding to six further countries in July. </p> <p>A Facebook spokesperson recently told TechCrunch that, "We are running a limited test where like, reaction, and video view counts are made private across Facebook. We will gather feedback to understand whether this change will improve people's experiences." </p> <p>If the test shows positive results and improves user's sense of self worth, lack of envy and increased participation on the platform, this feature could spread around the world and even one day become a central feature of the application. So far now plans for that have been revealed or talked about. </p> <p>The company's similar test on Instagram is being led by a separate team. </p> <p>The tests have proven successful in keeping users engaged and liking on Instagram and many users have reported <a href="https://www.theverge.com/2019/7/22/20699316/instagram-like-hiding-update-feedback-data-countries" target="_blank">liking the hidden counts feature.</a></p> <p>Businesses and creators on instagram are still able to view the highly detailed metrics on their dashboards and they can still track the number of likes on their posted content.</p>
Competition and envy online<p>Facebook hopes that without the looming Like counts, people will be more apt to interact with one another and care less about how their popularity is perceived by others. It also may assist in getting rid of herd mentality and letting people interact freely with content that interests them for what it is, not just for how many likes it has.</p> <p>For those more competitive minded people, they'll still be able to see the totals on their own posts, but they won't be able to compare that with others. Although, that might help them out in the long run. </p> <p>If Facebook goes through with removing Like counts everywhere and it eventually becomes the standard, it could help mitigate the negative effects that social media has on many people's self esteem.</p>
Why an early Facebook investor is now Facebook's biggest critic.
- Investor Roger McNamee joined Facebook as an early investor when the company was just two years old.
- In this video, he explains why he went from Facebook supporter to public critic, and why he came to write the book "Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe".
- The next billion dollars Facebook makes means nothing if it doesn't reform its practices, says McNamee.
Why virtue signaling does nothing.
"A big problem with moral outrage on the Internet is that it leads people to think they’ve done something when in fact they haven’t done something," says author Alice Dreger. Sure, you might get a little rush out of updating your status to say something, but all you're really doing is virtue signaling. Alice's latest book is Galileo's Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and One Scholar's Search for Justice.