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Facebook Boycott Grows: Ford Joins Coca-Cola, Starbucks And Other Brands

The exodus of major advertisers from Facebook continues to grow as the company weathers criticism over its handling of racist, violent and other hateful rhetoric on the platform.

On Monday, Ford became one of the latest companies to pause social media advertising when it announced a 30-day halt. Another major brand, Pepsi, is reportedlyweighing a similar move, following Starbucks, Coca-Cola, Unilever and dozens of other brands shifting their ad dollars away from Facebook.

The brands said they are standing up against hate speech. Clorox, for instance, said it will stop all advertising on Facebook through December because "we feel compelled to take action against hate speech."

Facebook has been under intense scrutiny over its handling of recent posts by President Trump. After weeks of a staunch hands-off approach, CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Friday reversed course as a parade of brands began severing their ties with the company. Zuckerberg said Facebook will put warning labels on posts that break its rules, even if they are newsworthy, opening the door to potentially labeling posts by Trump.

Civil rights groups — including the Anti-Defamation League, the NAACP and Color of Change — launched a campaign called #StopHateForProfit and urged brands to halt Facebook advertising during July, saying the social network profits off bigotry, racism and violence.

For Facebook, which also owns Instagram, advertising is the single most important source of money, bringing in almost all revenue — or close to $70 billion — last year.

Ford spokesman Said Deep told NPR on Monday that it is "actively engaged" with initiatives led by the Association of National Advertisers to increase "accountability, transparency and trusted measurement to clean up the digital and social media ecosystem."

"The existence of content that includes hate speech, violence and racial injustice on social platforms needs to be eradicated," Deep said in a statement.

Zuckerberg has long maintained that people should be able to see what politicians say, no matter how offensive, and has criticized Twitter's decision to label the president's tweets earlier this year. He has not addressed the advertising boycotts so far.

"A handful of times a year, we make a decision to leave up content that would otherwise violate our policies because we consider that the public interest value outweighs the risk of that content," he said on Friday. "In the same way that news outlets will often report what a politician says, we think it's important that people should generally be able to see it for themselves on our platforms, too."

Editor's note: Facebook, Coca-Cola, Starbucks and Unilever are among NPR's financial supporters.

NPR's Shannon Bond and Camila Domonoske contributed to this report.

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Alina Selyukh is a business correspondent at NPR, where she follows the path of the retail and tech industries, tracking how America's biggest companies are influencing the way we spend our time, money, and energy.