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Disney said to have 'dramatically' cut ad spending on Facebook amid boycott

It may be the largest blow yet to Facebook over its hate speech policies.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
July 18, 2020
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Los visitantes usan máscaras para asistir al día oficial de reapertura del Magic Kingdom en Walt Disney World en Lake Buena Vista, Florida, el sábado 11 de julio de 2020. Disney abrió dos parques de Florida, Magic Kingdom y Animal Kingdom, el sábado con protocolos de capacidad y seguridad limitadas en respuesta a la pandemia de coronavirus. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Disney might be the largest company yet to join a growing ad boycott against Facebook. Wall Street Journal sources say the media and theme park giant has “dramatically” reduced its ad spending on Facebook. It’s not clear just how deep the cut is or how long it will last, but Disney reportedly made the move quietly rather than making a public announcement. It also froze Hulu advertising on Instagram, according to the sources.

We’ve asked Disney and Facebook for comment. In a response to the WSJ, Facebook reiterated its statement that it has “more work to do” on curbing hate speech.

If this is tied to the boycott, it could represent the largest financial blow yet to Facebook over claims its hate speech and misinformation policies are inadequate. Pathmatics estimated that Disney was Facebook’s top US advertiser in the first half of 2020, according to the WSJ. While it won’t necessarily cause significant hardship for Facebook, it may be noticeable than ad cuts for other companies, including Ford, Starbucks and Engadget’s parent company Verizon.

Facebook previously said it would alter its policies to address concerns. Civil rights leaders behind the boycott have complained that meetings with the social network have been disappointing, though, and have vowed to maintain boycotts until there are more substantial changes. The company failed its own audit of civil rights and hate speech issues.

It’s too soon to say if Disney participation in the boycott would prompt Facebook to reconsider its position. High-profile advertisers like this are harder to ignore, though, and may prompt other companies to follow suit.

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