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The Coca-Cola Co, Diageo pull social media advertising over hate speech

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The Coca-Cola Co and Diageo have joined a number of companies in putting a temporary stop on their social media advertising, including Facebook, in an ongoing row over hate speech.

A number of beverage companies have said they will halt social media ads through July

A number of beverage companies have said they will halt social media ads through July

The CEO of Coca-Cola, James Quincey, said on Friday the group will pause paid advertising on all social media platforms globally for at least 30 days. On Saturday, Diageo said it would also stop paying for advertising on all social media platforms from 1 July.

Diageo has not given a timeframe for the global pause.

The halts align with the 'Stop Hate for Profit' campaign, which is urging businesses to boycott advertising on Facebook during the month of July. The campaign wants to deny Facebook marketing money in retaliation to what organisers claim is the social media giant's handling of hate speech, misinformation and political posts.

According to the New York Times, Coca-Cola and Diageo are two of Facebook's biggest advertising spenders, with annual contributions of US$22.1m and US$22.9m, respectively. Starbucks, which has also halted advertising on all social media platforms, spends almost US$100m a year on Facebook ads.

Jim Beam Bourbon producer Beam Suntory said on Sunday it would pause ad spend on Facebook and Instagram throughout July. After July, the company will evaluate the decision and await a response from Facebook.

Media outlets in the US have reported that PepsiCo has also joined the advertising boycott of Facebook but the company has not, at the time of writing, issued a statement to this effect.

On Friday, Facebook announced new measures the company said will give a broader context to political posts ahead of the US presidential elections in November. Labels on posts will direct users to accurate voting information.

Among the organisations calling for a boycott of social media platforms to protest the regulation of offensive or racially-insensitive content are the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and civil rights organisation Color of Change.

CORRECTION: This article was corrected on 30/06/2020 to reflect that Diageo's pause on global social media ads is openended, and not just for one month as previously stated.

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