A large number of major companies across the United State are pulling their advertising from Facebook.
Many of them want Facebook to censor what they call “hate speech” or “misinformation” that is on the platform.
The ad boycott is already happening from companies like REI, Verizon, Hershey, Addidas, and Coke. Now, some of Idaho’s largest corporations are also jumping on the advertising boycott.
Chobani, HP, Albertsons, ClifBar, and Micron are all boycotting advertising on Facebook to pressure change on the platform.
Chobani posted on Twitter recently and told their supporters,
We’ve always stood against hate & bigotry and it is our duty to help change these platforms.
Albertsons, which is headquartered in Idaho is also frustrated with Facebook.
They put out a statement to their supporters. The statement reads in part,
During the month of July, we will pause social media advertisements and work with the platforms to identify, develop, and implement necessary changes. We are confident we can help spark lasting change that finally extends the promise of our country’s highest ideals to all, no matter what.
Albertsons did not make it clear whether they would continue their boycott after the month of July if Facebook does not make any changes to the platform.
Micron, which is also based in Idaho, put out a statement as well. Part of it reads,
Micron greatly values diversity, and believes bias, racism and other forms of discrimination, including hate speech, have no place in our society.
However, not everyone agrees with what is happening with the advertising boycott.
Conservatives argue that censorship is a dangerous path forward.
We reached out to several conservative political figures in Idaho to get their reaction to the advertising boycott. Bryan Smith of Idaho Falls had this to say,
It’s absurd to think that Facebook would censor “hate speech” or “misinformation.” We read in the New Testament that some people claimed Jesus spoke heretical hatespeech. Of course, they were wrong. History teaches some people once believed the world was flat. Those who disagreed believing the world was round could have been accused of spreading “misinformation” and silenced. Who are the angels with God-like powers at Facebook who will decide truth from error and good from bad? There are none. Those censoring speech are people with biases and agendas. I say let people speak without any censorship. Offensive or invaluable speech has no value in the market place of ideas. As for corporations who boycott to push for censorship, I say boycott them for promoting speech police.
Smith’s argument is similar to arguments made by political commentators like Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck.
They argue that there is no way to determine what hate speech is because everyone has their own definition of hate speech. Their concern is that companies and liberals want speech censored for a political agenda.
Could these corporations also see a boycott of their businesses as a result of their demands from Facebook? Smith argues that it may be time to boycott corporations who want to create speech police on open platforms like Facebook.
Brent Regan, a political activist in northern Idaho, targeted Facebook but for different reasons.
Regan argues that Facebook by law is not allowed to determine what is and is not hate speech because they have chosen to be a platform to avoid legal battles.
Regan told Idaho Dispatch,
Facebook needs to make a decision. Either they’re a content provider or a platform, but they can’t be both. If they are a platform then they should allow the free exchange of information without editing or censoring. As such they enjoy immunity from litigation. If Facebook complies with the wishes of their advertisers then they become a content provider and should be subject to litigation from those who they have wronged. What Facebook does is entirely up to Facebook. However, they should not be granted special privileges in the free market.
This sentiment has also been expressed by conservatives nationwide.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms enjoy legal protections because they are listed as platforms. However, if they are redesignated as “content providers” then they lose their legal protections and could be subject to lawsuits.
Several lawmakers also spoke to Idaho Dispatch about the issue.
Representative Tammy Nichols (Republican – Middleton) told us,
Money talks in advertising and businesses have the right to run their business as they see fit (including who they do business with). That being said, I find it interesting that now these businesses are concerned about social media censoring/monitoring, but still seem to want first amendment rights limited. They want ‘hate speech’ removed, but who gets to decide what ‘hate speech’ is? If I were Facebook, I would be more concerned about my users who are looking/moving to other platforms because of the censorship, but the ‘eating ones own’ behavior is intriguing to watch.
Rep. Heather Scott (Republican – Blanchard) said,
Is is a sad day when corporations (and US citizens) believe they need to silence any voice that doesn’t share their same views. When did an opposite view or opinion become hate speech in this country?
Both lawmakers criticized the desire of corporations to implement speech police on open platforms in an effort to silence people who oppose their views. However, both lawmakers also say they understand the right of those same companies to spend their money as they choose.
Is political censorship going too far or is it not going far enough?
Let us know in the comments!
Tags: Brent Regan, Bryan Smith, Censorship, Chobani, Clifbar, Facebook, HP, Micron, Tammy Nichols