The North Face has become the biggest brand so far to join #StopHateForProfit, a campaign that calls for companies to suspend advertising through Facebook due to the platform’s handling of misinformation and hate speech.
The movement is in solidarity with racial justice advocates, and was started by civil rights groups, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
The brand, which specialises in clothing for outdoor recreation, tweeted: ”We’re in. We’re Out @Facebook #StopHateForProfit” on June 19, 2020, and said it would be pulling ads from both Facebook and Instagram for the month of July. The tweet included a link to the website stophateforprofit.org, which is run collaboratively by the NAACP, the ADL, Color of Change, Free Press and Sleeping Giants.
The North Face’s parent company, VF Corp, also works with other major brands, including Vans, Timberland and Dickies. VFC spent $756.3m (£606.65m) on advertising last year. According to CNN Business, a spokesperson for VFC said other brands in its portfolio were also “considering” pulling advertising from the social media platform.
Freelancing company Upwork announced it too was “hitting pause on hate” by pulling Facebook advertising next month.
CEO of Upwork, Hayden Brown, said the company was committed to creating a safe, inclusive space for companies and professionals.
He said: “We cannot stand by and be complicit to or complacent about the spread of hate, racism, and misinformation.”
Outdoor equipment supplier REI joined the boycott soon after The North Face, tweeting: “For 82 years, we have put people over profits.” Patagonia also said it would stop Facebook advertising during July.
President of the NAACP, Derrick Johnson, called on advertisers to boycott the platform earlier in June, saying Facebook and its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, were “no longer simply negligent, but in fact, complacent in the spread of misinformation, despite the irreversible damage to our democracy”.
According to stophateforprofit.org, Facebook supported publications known to have a history working with white nationalists, including Breitbart News and The Daily Caller. The website also accused Facebook of turning a blind eye to “blatant voter suppression”.
Facebook Investor Relations reported the platform made $17.44bn (£14bn) in ad revenue in Q1 of 2020, up from $14.91 bn (£11.96bn) the year before.
Celebrities took to Twitter to express support for the #StopHateForProfit campaign, with actor Sacha Baron Cohen asking whether companies would choose to “profit off hate, racism & bigotry”, or if they would “take a stand for decency, equality & democracy”.
Some companies showed support in other ways, The Walt Disney Company pledged $5m (£4.01m) to non-profit social justice groups, starting with a $2m (£1.6m) donation to the NAACP. The company has yet to comment on whether it will join the Facebook ad boycott.