June 29, 2020

Starbucks deals social-media giants a scalding burn: No more ads

The ad boycott just got a fresh-brewed new face.

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

If you notice social media execs looking a little pale today, this news might be why: Starbucks is “pausing” ads on “all social media platforms” — minus YouTube — until those platforms can get their hate speech problems under control. 

Verizon, Coca-Cola, Unilever, and other heavyweights have already halted their ad spending. 

But Starbucks’ entry into the fray is important because it comes after Facebook — the main target of the big ad retreat — tried to brew a fix.

Facebook has to do more to sweeten the pot

On Friday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that he would slap warning labels on posts from politicians that break Facebook’s rules about misinformation and violence. 

Sound familiar? That’s because it looks a lot like Twitter’s approach.

But Starbucks took one look at those changes and sipped its tea. Labels aren’t enough: The coffee kingpin is calling for tighter moderation of hate speech. 

Facebook is getting roasted

The New York Times has some estimates on how much each boycott might cost Big Blue (One example: Unilever spent ~$42m+ on Facebook ads last year).

The numbers might look measly compared to Facebook’s $17.7B in revenue — and that was just last quarter. After all, most of Facebook’s advertisers are small businesses that can’t afford to boycott. 

But high-profile drop-outs do matter — Facebook’s stock price tumbled 8.3% on Friday, erasing $7B of Zuckerberg’s personal wealth.

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