Verizon ups stakes in Facebook ad boycott – where’s PR man Nick Clegg in all this?

Hitherto all-conquering Facebook (with advertisers and media agencies anyway) is now like a rabbit in the headlights as the Anti-Defamation League in the US bites, sparked by Black Lives Matter.

Now Verizon, which spends around $2m on Facebook and Instagram, is the biggest company to join the #StopHateForProfit July ad boycott. Even more worrying for Facebook perhaps is that a number of ad and media agencies are joining in including Dentsu’s 360i and Omnicom’s Goodby Silverstein.

Verizon chief media officer Jon Nitti says: “We have strict content policies in place and have zero tolerance when they are breached, we take action. We’re pausing our advertising until Facebook can create an acceptable solution that makes us comfortable and is consistent with what we’ve done with YouTube and other partners.”

Facebook’s response so far has been little more than hand-wringing and promising to try harder. But it’s between a rock and a hard place.

A lot of the content individuals and, now, advertisers object to comes from one Donald Trump, who Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg really can’t afford to fall out with. If Facebook takes a markedly tougher line on such content then it will be acting like a media owner – which it definitely does not want to be because of the responsibilities and costs that come with it.

One person we’ve heard nary a squeak from is Nick Clegg, former UK deputy prime minister as a Liberal in David Cameron’s first Tory coalition government and now Facebook’s highly-paid top PR man.

Isn’t this just the kind of issue Clegg (who’s now in California) was hired to deal with? Maybe he’s working behind the scenes. Or just given up.

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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.

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