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Starbucks halts Facebook ads amid movement to stop hate speech on social media

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Starbucks is the latest company to say it will pause social media ads after a campaign led by civil rights organizations called for an ad boycott of Facebook, saying it doesn’t do enough to stop racist and violent content.

Starbucks said Sunday that its actions were not part of the “#StopHateforProfit” campaign, but that it is pausing its social ads while talking with civil rights organizations and its media partners about how to stop hate speech online.

The coffee chain’s announcement follows statements from Unilever, the European consumer-goods giant behind Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and Dove soap; Coca-Cola; cellphone company Verizon and outdoors companies like Patagonia, Eddie Bauer and REI; film company Magnolia Pictures; jeans maker Levi’s and dozens of smaller companies. Some of the companies will pause ads just on Facebook, while others will refrain from advertising more broadly on social media.

In response to companies halting advertising, Facebook executive Carolyn Everson said earlier this week the social networking platform is committed to purging hateful content from its services.

“Our conversations with marketers and civil rights organizations are about how, together, we can be a force for good,” said Everson, vice-president of Facebook’s global business group.

READ MORE: Facebook announces plan to label newsworthy posts that break rules

Facebook’s market value dropped Friday by more than 8 per cent, or about US$50 billion, as more companies said they would pause ads. Twitter stock also dropped more than 7 per cent Friday.

Sarah Personette, vice-president of global client solutions at Twitter, said Friday the company’s “mission is to serve the public conversation and ensure Twitter is a place where people can make human connections, seek and receive authentic and credible information, and express themselves freely and safely.”

She added that Twitter is “respectful of our partners’ decisions and will continue to work and communicate closely with them during this time.”

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