Zuckerberg on advertisers: ‘They’ll be back’

Besieged Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg has told his staff that he's sure all of the company's former advertisers will come back - despite his refusal to bow to the demands of "hate speech" campaigners.'

He told Facebook employees that the company is "not gonna change" their policies on "hate speech", despite an advertising boycott costing the company $A10 billion.

In the face of the #StopHateForProfit campaign, more than 500 companies have now parted ways with the Facebook advertising department, calling on the tech giant to do more to prevent racist and hate-filled posts on its site.


"We're not gonna change our policies or approach on anything because of a threat to a small per cent of our revenue, or to any per cent of our revenue," said Zuckerberg, according to The Information.

"My guess is that all these advertisers will be back on the platform soon enough," he claimed, apparently without providing any thoughts behind his reasoning.

He said the advertiser walkout was a "reputational and a partner issue" rather than a financial one, because most of Facebook's revenue comes from small businesses and not large brands.

The top 100 brands on Facebook in 2019 likely brought in only 6 per cent of Facebook's total $A100 billion in annual revenue, according to a Morningstar research note citing Pathmatics data.

Facebook said last year its top 100 advertisers accounted for less than 20 per cent of total ad revenue.

On Wednesday Dunkin Donuts, LEGO and Consumer Reports joined the boycott, following on from Target, Best Buy and Clorox.

The boycott was started by civil-rights groups including the NAACP, the Anti-Defamation League, and Colour of Change on June 17, with North Face the first large company to sign up. Others soon followed.

Facebook saw $60 billion in market value erased in just two days earlier this week as major brands joined the boycott, but its shares have largely rebounded since then.

More than 500 companies, including major brands such as Coca-Cola, Ford, Starbucks, Verizon, Adidas, and Unilever, have pulled ads from the social-media platform as part of the campaign.


Zuckerberg says losing $10bn isn’t enough to force him to change policies. Picture: Getty
Zuckerberg says losing $10bn isn’t enough to force him to change policies. Picture: Getty

On Friday, as the boycott gained steam, Facebook said it would attach labels to "newsworthy" posts from politicians that violated its hate-speech policies - a significant reversal for the company - and tighten up its rules for advertisers.

In response to the boycott, a Facebook spokeswoman said the company invests billions each year to ensure safety and continuously works with outside experts to review and update its policies.

The company has banned 250 white supremacist organisations from Facebook and Instagram, she said, adding that the company's substantial investment artificial intelligence technology allows Facebook to find nearly 90 per cent of hate speech before users report it.

'We know we have more work to do, and we'll continue to work with civil rights groups, GARM, and other experts to develop even more tools, technology and policies to continue this fight,' the spokesman added.

Facebook executives also have tried in multiple private discussions to address advertisers' concerns, but those talks ultimately broke down, with advertisers calling Facebook's efforts 'simply not moving' and the boycott's organizers demanding that Zuckerberg personally attend because 'he is the ultimate authority'.



Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook Chief Operating Officer, last week asked to meet with the campaign organizers along with Chief Product Officer Chris Cox, who returned to Facebook this month after resigning over the company's direction last year.

But the civil rights groups insisted Zuckerberg also be at the table, with Anti-Defamation League Chief Executive Jonathan Greenblatt noting that as CEO, chairman and the company's largest shareholder, "he is the ultimate authority".

Zuckerberg has now agreed to meet with leaders of the NAACP, Color of Change, and the Anti-Defamation League.


Sheryl Sandberg. Picture: Getty
Sheryl Sandberg. Picture: Getty

The meeting has not yet happened.

Zuckerberg's comments suggest he may have already made up his mind, and he seemed to hint that the boycott might actually be backfiring.

"If someone goes out there and threatens you to do something, that actually kind of puts you in a box where in some ways it's even harder to do what they want because now it looks like you're capitulating, and that sets up bad long-term incentives for others to do that [to you] as well," Zuckerberg said, according to The Information.

On June 17, Colour Of Change along with the NAACP, ADL, Sleeping Giants, Free Press, and Common Sense Media authored an open letter asking corporations to cease advertising on Facebook for the month of July.







Originally published as Zuckerberg on advertisers: 'They'll be back'