What is clear from the growing response to the #StopHateForProfit movement is that the main characteristic of a country’s government – geography – limits its effectiveness when it comes to our modern demands for justice.
Government is bound by its borders, however, hate speech and misinformation is circling the globe through social media every day, inciting more hatred and tearing our communities apart. When far-reaching platforms, such as Facebook, have more power and influence than any single government, and a platform doesn’t act to prevent hate, how do we convince it to take responsibility?
Right now, it appears that governments take a backseat and global corporations with big advertising budgets, step up to make justice happen. The new authority of our online communities are mammoth corporations that lead by example. When they collectively boycott a platform and withdraw ad dollars, they have the power to penalize bad behaviour and bring justice to our online world. We as individuals join in by putting our dollars behind these good corporations to let them know we are all aligned.
At Orenda, we saw the call to action against Facebook increase over the last two months, a clear erosion of favourability toward the social media company. For the data below, we calculated several metrics, including trust, since May 1st to present day. The result charted below is a 50-day moving average over 200–day moving average of Orenda’s ESG & Social Positioning scores for Facebook. The graph shows a continual decline throughout the period.
This downward momentum grabbed the attention of companies like Verizon, Lululemon, Levi’s, Coca-Cola, Starbucks and so many more. They signed up to Hit Pause on Hate by committing to boycott Facebook’s services for the month of July. With those massive advertising spends withdrawn for the month, traders took that as a signal and Facebook shares took a hit. This isn’t the first time Facebook’s shares dropped in price based on its actions, and it’s unlikely that it will be the last. The next question? How many more hits can Facebook’s reputation withstand?
In the meantime, there is comfort in knowing that when our governments are limited because of their very nature, there are corporate leaders ready to protect what we value most and to intervene when there is abuse. Perhaps there is a new form of sanctions emerging? Maybe it’s as simple as Online Sanctions – the corporate and community prevention of online injustice, misinformation, fabricated news and hate speech.
(For Dungeon and Dragons-type fans, this new reality is eerily close to Shadowrun, Sixth World, which my son shared with me in the past. He said that the rule book was about a world where government takes a backseat and corporations take the lead by controlling education, the news, even social media. I always did like dragons).