Disney Pulls Facebook Ads for Disney Plus Amid Boycott Over Hate-Speech Concerns (Report)

Disney, the biggest spender on advertising with Facebook in the first half of 2020, has reportedly suspended ads for Disney Plus and Hulu with the social giant.

Disney recently has “dramatically slashed” advertising with Facebook, the Wall Street Journal reported Saturday, citing anonymous sources. Reps for Facebook and 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 have 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 has been led by groups including the NAACP and the Anti-Defamation League.

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.”

In a statement to the Journal, Facebook said “We know we have more work to do… to develop even more tools, technology and policies to continue this fight.”

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 on its networks.

A July 8 report by independent civil-rights auditors — enlisted by Facebook — 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.

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