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Verizon Pulls Facebook and Instagram Ads Over Hate Speech and Disinformation

(Bloomberg) — Verizon Communications Inc. said it is pausing the placement of ads on Facebook Inc. and Instagram until the social networks can get better control over posts that spread disinformation.

“We have strict content policies in place and have zero tolerance when they are breached, we take action,” Verizon Chief Media Officer John Nitti said in a statement. “We’re pausing our advertising until Facebook can create an acceptable solution that makes us comfortable and is consistent with what we’ve done with YouTube and other partners.”

Verizon is one of the largest advertisers to pull its ads from Facebook as part of an effort by civil rights organizations to pressure the social-media company to take action on hate speech and misleading content. Groups including the Anti-Defamation League and Color of Change started the campaign, called Stop Hate For Profit, to encourage advertisers to boycott Facebook ads in July. Verizon’s move follows participation by Recreational Equipment Inc., Patagonia Inc., Upwork Inc., Ben & Jerry’s and other brands.

“We applaud Verizon for joining this growing fight against hate and bigotry by pausing their advertising on Facebook’s platforms, until they put people and safety over profit,” Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive officer of ADL, said in a statement. “This is how real change is made.”

Facebook has been telling advertisers that it bases its policies on principles, not business interests, according to its communications with marketers. The Menlo Park, California-based company has been reaching out to advertisers to discuss its recent initiatives on registering voters and distributing verified election information.

But it’s not just advertisers that are upset. U.S. lawmakers have also put pressure on Facebook, Twitter Inc. and Google to combat disinformation, including during a House Intelligence Committee hearing last week.

“We respect any brand’s decision, and remain focused on the important work of removing hate speech and providing critical voting information,” Carolyn Everson, vice president of Facebook’s global business group, said in a statement. “Our conversations with marketers and civil rights organizations are about how, together, we can be a force for good.”

Verizon’s move was reported earlier by Ad Age.

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