Does mushrooming ad boycott signal the end for Facebook’s Zuckerberg?

First is was Facebook, now it’s Twitter and other social media for many big advertisers.

The Facebook ad boycott is still growing apace – Unilever, Levi’s – while other advertisers -including Diageo and Starbucks – are pulling their ads from all social media – until the tech giants clean up their “hate speech” act.

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has already said that Facebook is going to but nobody believes him. Nothing new there but hitherto advertisers have voted with their wallets not their consciences.

What’s different this time? Black Lives Matter obviously but also the prospect of a US Presidential election that’s set to be the dirtiest yet (a pretty high bar.) Many commentators reckon President Trump is already planning to challenge the verdict if it doesn’t go his way and some of his wackier supporters (another high bar) are threatening, if we believe the weekend papers, to take up arms in his cause. To them (and Trump no doubt) Democrat candidate Joe Biden is a Marxist.

Even Facebook’s biggest detractors (Ad Contrarian Bob Hoffman calls it and other social media a “cesspool”) hardly expected this. Certainly Facebook’s shareholders didn’t.

The only way out for Facebook (and maybe Twitter) may to put new leaders, preferably recruited from outside, in place. But will Zuckerberg, a big shareholder, go quietly? Or will he take the Trump route?

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About Stephen Foster

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Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.