Disney recently has “dramatically slashed” advertising with Facebook, the Wall Street Journal reported Saturday, citing anonymous sources. Disney did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The move by Disney to scale back advertising with Facebook comes amid the #StopHateForProfit campaign. More than 1,000 companies have said they temporarily halted advertising with the social-media company in an attempt to coerce Facebook into dealing more forcefully with hate speech and harassment. Those include Unilever, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Target, Starbucks, Verizon and Acura. The initiative is led by groups including the NAACP and the Anti-Defamation League.
A Facebook rep, asked about Disney’s reported ad pullback, said the company does not comment on individual advertisers. Regarding the company’s efforts in addressing hate speech, the spokeswoman said, “We invest billions of dollars each year to keep our community safe and continuously work with outside experts to review and update our policies. We know we have more work to do, and we’ll continue to work with civil rights groups, GARM [the Global Alliance for Responsible Media coalition], and other experts to develop even more tools, technology and policies to continue this fight.”
In the first six months of 2020, Disney spent $210 million on Facebook ads for Disney Plus in the U.S. alone, per ad-analytics firm Pathmatics as cited by the Journal. In addition to pulling Disney Plus ads from Facebook, the media conglomerate has dropped Instagram advertising for Hulu (which Disney now controls), according to the WSJ report. The report also said other Disney divisions are “reexamining their advertising on Facebook,” and noted that ads for ABC and Disney cable networks including Freeform “have all but vanished from the site.”
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, in a July 7 post, said the company “stands firmly against hate.” But she claimed the boycott is not the impetus for Facebook’s decision-making: “We are making changes – not for financial reasons or advertiser pressure, but because it is the right thing to do.”
After nationwide Black Lives Matter protests following the police killing of George Floyd, Facebook has become a bigger target among critics who argue that the powerful internet company must do more to curb hate speech and disinformation spread across its networks.
A July 8 report by independent civil-rights auditors — who were enlisted by Facebook to review its policies and practices — faulted the company’s leaders for “vexing and heartbreaking decisions Facebook has made that represent significant setbacks for civil rights.” In response to the auditors’ report, Sandberg acknowledged that “we have a long way to go.”
“As hard as it has been to have our shortcomings exposed by experts, it has undoubtedly been a really important process for our company,” Sandberg wrote in a blog post.
Meanwhile, Facebook is considering a ban on political ads across its platforms, according to multiple media reports. Last month, the company began letting Facebook and Instagram users in the U.S. disable political ads.