Facebook boycott: North Face is first to join civil rights groups in demand to end to hate speech
Carolyn Wysinger is a teacher and activist who says Facebook censors her from discussing racism online, sometimes locking her out of her account. USA TODAY
The North Face is the first major brand to halt advertising on Facebook and Instagram as part of a boycott organized by civil rights groups to condemn the social media company’s failure to crack down on hate speech.
The North Face suspension of U.S. paid advertising on the two platforms began Friday as the nation honored Juneteenth, a holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.
"We’re in. We’re Out," The North Face tweeted.
The outdoor apparel brand said the boycott would continue until Facebook puts in place stricter policies to stem the flow of hate speech on the two platforms. Nearly all of Facebook's revenue comes from advertising on Facebook and Instagram.
"The North Face is pausing all domestic paid advertising with Facebook and Instagram in the hopes that Facebook will improve its policies against racist, violent or hateful content and misinformation spreading and that they will be updated by Facebook," The North Face said in a statement to USA TODAY. "We hope that they will reconsider their policies and will reevaluate our position in the next thirty days."
Outdoor retailer REI on Friday also pledged to suspend all advertising on Facebook and Instagram in July.
"For 82 years, we have put people over profits," the company tweeted.
Facebook while black: Users call it getting 'Zucked,' say talking about racism is censored as hate speech
The #StopHateforProfit campaign, launched this month by civil rights groups including the NAACP, Color of Change and the Anti-Defamation League, comes as corporate America grapples with racial inequality following the death of George Floyd in police custody.
The campaign calls on advertisers to suspend their ad campaigns during the month of July over charges that Facebook allows incitement to violence against Black users fighting for racial justice while censoring them for calling out racism.
Facebook issued a statement to USA TODAY in response to The North Face's announcement.
“We deeply respect any brand’s decision and remain focused on the important work of removing hate speech and providing critical voting information,” said Carolyn Everson, vice president of Facebook’s global business group. “Our conversations with marketers and civil rights organizations are about how, together, we can be a force for good.”
The North Face, a brand owned by publicly held company VF Corp., says it took the public stand because "the outdoors are for everyone." For the year that ended March 31, VF Corp. spent $756 million on advertising.
"We’re in a major cultural moment of pain and recognition that is long overdue, and we have a role to play in supporting the Black community and combating systemic racism in the U.S. and within our own organization," The North Face said in a statement.
A 2019 ADL survey found that Facebook was the online platform where most Americans using social media reported experiencing hate and harassment. More than 55% of Facebook users reported hate and harassment on the platform, the survey found.