The oldest trick in PR and politics is to take control of the narrative. Shifting focus from uncomfortable criticism to talking points you dictate is as old as debating. Politicians, cigarette companies and polluters around the world use this strategy all the time to deflect attention from wrongdoings..
Earlier this fall, Facebook announced it’s changing its name to “Meta” with much pomp and circumstance. The timing was painfully obvious, and the execution poor. Whatever you call it, you can’t polish a turd.
What’s the problem with Facebook?
The list of suffering and atrocities directly caused by or linked to Facebooks platform is both long and sad reading.
Spanning from Russian troll-bots, fake news, misinformation, Cambridge Analytica, Trump and Brexit to insurrection, teen mental health problems, anti-competitive behaviour, cooked analytics, civil unrest and genocide to name a few and current examples. Facebook is so fast becoming the archetype for tech-giant-gone-wrong that their name change could just as well have been to “The Bad Guys” or “The Evil Empire”. Need proof? Start here
The saddest part of the revelations from whistleblower Frances Haugen is still this: She’s confirming what we already knew. Facebook has provided almost weekly examples of disastrous tendencies and behaviour for years and the executives at the company have known about their negative impact. Perhaps it’s now time for some others to ask themselves the following (uncomfortable question): Why are advertisers enabling and encouraging this company to keep doing what they do?
Why do we keep giving this company our money?
If we could reverse engineer teenage suicide to a person, publisher or TV program - there would be consequences. Criminal liability, censorship or limitations would be put into action at once. If thousands of people got hooked on a product that harmed society it would be heavily regulated and age guarded as a minimum. Every single country in the world regulates its infrastructure like water supply, electricity and roads so that they cannot be weaponized or unfairly cut off from the population. yet, in parts of the world - facebook IS infrastructure. WhatsApp is akin to a national service provider for communications, Messenger and Facebook groups function as school-to-parent and peer-to-peer channels world wide, and it is virtually impossible to avoid Facebook logins as entry points to commerce, services and apps.
We are in this situation because we not only let Facebook do this, but because we pay them to do it.
“We are the victim!” - Mark Zuckerberg
Regardless of the revelations and negative publicity, Facebook ad revenue continues to grow. An increasing number of advertisers report concern over the dominant role of Google and Facebooks ecosystem and power - yet budgets and ad spending on their platforms continues to increase. Why is this?
How can we expect companies to change their ways for the better - if we keep endorsing them with cash?
YOU play a role
Advertisers: Every time you make a decision about where you place your advertising budget, you are saying something about what kind of world you want. There is a very thin barrier that separates corporations that actively and knowingly pollute the climate, commit tax fraud and the ones advertising on Facebook.
In 2021 the Nobel Institute awarded Maria Resa and Dmitry Andreyevich Muratov the Peace Price for “their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace."
The free and independent press, a multitude of voices, expressed through a reliable and accountable media industry is critical for democracy. Trustworthy reporting is essential for the advancement of Brand Performance in advertising and quality context is the key to positive brand messaging for marketeers. Advertising revenue has always been and is an important revenue stream for media companies and as the shift to digital continues, media has been hemorrhaging money to Facebook and Google. This must stop!
Put your money where your heart is. Boycott Facebook!
By saying NO to advertising on Facebook, advertisers can show their audience that they care about the society in which they live and work, support advertising industry players that believe in honesty and accountability and clearly distance themselves from a surveillance economy that abuses fundamental rights like privacy.
The only way to change Facebook is to hit them where it hurts. Let’s say no to funding their behavior - no matter what they call themselves.
As a marketeer I’m proud to tell to my teenage daughters that I refuse to advertise on Facebook. You should join in, it feels great - and you are not alone. Great brands like Patagonia and a growing number of organizations are joining the movement
Rickard Lawson, CMO Strossle International
If you’re reading this and thinking “but what is the alternative?” you can contact me on email@example.com or check out some of these options: DuckDuckGo, Vivaldi Technologies, Fastmail, Mojeek, Disconnect, Inc., Kobler, Mailfence, Fathom Analytics, Tutanota, Startpage, Strossle, Nextcloud GmbH, Ecosia