Digicel quitting Facebook ads forJuly

Digicel is joining a growing global Facebook boycott after the company came under fire for allowing hate speech to spread on its platform and doing too little to control it.

The mobile operator which runs in 31 countries including in the Pacific released a statement stating it will stop all paid advertising on the site but only for July. 

Group Chief Executive Officer (C.E.O.) Jean-Yves Charlier said Digicel is joining a campaign called Stop Hate for Profit, organized by the Anti-Defamation League and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, two American organisations. 

“By standing together with the world’s best companies, our hope is that Facebook will be forced to put people above profits and do the right thing to help build a society where all people are respected and valued equally – as is their basic human right,” Mr. Charlier said.

Last week, Facebook founder and C.E.O. Mark Zuckerberg appeared to flout boycott threats, saying any would end “soon enough” and that Facebook wouldn’t be changing any policies, according to a transcript of his remarks obtained by The Intelligence site. 

In response to large brands like Starbucks, Coca-Cola and Unilever, Mr. Zuckerberg told staff at the site that: “My guess is that all these advertisers will be back on the platform soon enough.”

While some companies are ceasing their paid advertising in full, others like Digicel are enacting a “pause” on their activities instead. 

“The move is in solidarity with a number of leading global brands who have moved to send a strong message to Facebook that enough is enough, and force it into affirmative action instead of idly standing by as its platforms are used to spark and spread negative, damaging and violent messaging,” Mr. Charlier said.

“In seeking always to lead with positivity and the spirit of inclusion, proudly today on behalf of our 7,000 wonderfully diverse Digicel employees globally, our customers and our communities, we’re ‘hitting pause on hate’.”

In New Zealand, the largest news company in the country Stuff has stopped publishing its news or paying for advertising on the site until further notice. 

Editor in Chief Patrick Crewdson said Facebook is not “compatible with trust.”

“We’ve all seen examples of social ills on Facebook that aren’t compatible with trust – for instance the spreading of fake news and hate speech. Stuff itself is frequently frustrated by other sites posing as our website on Facebook,” he said in a statement. 

C.E.O. Sinead Boucher called the move an “experiment,” following a stop on Facebook ads after the Christchurch mosque attack in March 2019.

Digicel Samoa C.E.O. Mark Whitthuhn declined to comment further on how this change will affect operations in Samoa. 


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