Canadian companies are joining a growing list of top international brands vowing not to advertise on Facebook Inc. in July because of the company’s refusal to deal with the spread of hateful content on its platform.
It’s not quite a stampede, but the list of blue chip companies pulling their advertising dollars from Facebook and other social media platforms is growing longer by the day. Diageo and Starbucks are the most recent big names to join a group that already includes the likes of Coca-Cola, Unilever and PepsiCo. Starbucks said it will “continue discussions internally, with our media partners and with civil rights organizations in the effort to stop the spread of hate speech.” Where does it end? And what are the longer-term implications for Facebook and its peers? We’ll aim to address those questions today.
The dawn of the current era of weaponised misinformation can be dated with precision to September 2012. That was when Facebook started favouring posts by publishers and sending them enormous amounts of traffic. Over the next 12 months, Facebook referrals to Time magazine jumped 208%, to BuzzFeed 855% and to Bleacher Report more than 1,000%. Websites such as Upworthy, BuzzFeed, Mic and their imitators grew massive by figuring out how to appeal to the algorithm. Soon, so did others: dodgy conservative news sites from publishers such as Liftable Media were in the ascendant by 2015.
Canada Day celebrations are drastically scaled down this year due to COVID-19.
In Red Deer, that means no gathering at Bower Ponds, typically hosted by the Red Deer Cultural Heritage Society (RDCHS)