Diageo will pause ad spend on major social media platforms

Spirits giant Diageo said Saturday it will be pausing paid advertising globally on “major social media platforms” beginning in July. 

The company, which is the maker of Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff and Guinness, said it will “continue to discuss with media partners how they will deal with unacceptable content.” The company didn’t immediately return requests for comment on which platforms this includes or for how long.  

Diageo is the latest major advertiser to make such an announcement amid a boycott that began with Facebook but is now hitting other social media platforms. Coca Cola on Friday also said it would pause advertising on all social media platforms globally, while Unilever is halting advertising on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in the U.S. through Dec. 31. 

After a group of organizations called on Facebook advertisers to pause their ad spend during the month of July, more than 160 marketers including Levi’s, Patagonia, REI, Lending Club and The North Face have announced their intention to join, according to a running list from Sleeping Giants.

The organizations said they’re asking Facebook to more stringently police hate speech and disinformation by taking a number of actions, including creating a “separate moderation pipeline” for users who say they’ve been targeted because of their race or religion, or to let advertisers see how frequently their ads appeared near to content that was later removed for misinformation or hate, and allow them refunds for those advertisements. 

Last year, Facebook brought in $69.7 billion in ad revenue globally through its millions of advertisers. And though some of them command much higher Facebook budgets than others, it would take a large group withholding spend to make much of a financial dent. But the financial dent isn’t the end goal, Sleeping Giants said in a tweet Friday: “…It’s about a broader reckoning around the platform’s lack of moderation of hate and disinformation. Advertisers don’t want to sponsor violent, bigoted content or lies.” 

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