Bokhari: Activism Not Journalism – CNN Pressures Brands to Join Facebook Ad Boycott

Mark Zuckerberg drinking
Getty/Chip Somodevilla

CNN is naming and shaming corporate brands that have yet to join the ad boycott against Facebook, spurred by an agitated political left that wants the platform to do more to crack down on constitutionally protected speech — especially that of President Donald Trump.

The anti-Trump broadcaster published an article on its website earlier today titled “These are the big brands that haven’t pulled ads from Facebook yet.”

CNN also reveals in its article that it reached out to all of the brands for comment, a commonly used tactic in the media aimed at pressuring companies to take action with the veiled threat of negative coverage.

The article admits that the boycott will likely not make much of a difference to Facebook’s bottom line, and also admits that most brands did not return CNN’s request for comment:

The data suggest the ongoing boycott may have a limited impact on Facebook’s bottom line, at least as it stands right now. Even if all 100 of Facebook’s biggest advertisers joined in, they would account for just 6% of the company’s annual ad revenue.
The majority of the top spenders haven’t made any statements on the matter. Most of the top 25 brands did not respond to requests for comment from CNN Business, including Walmart, Wells Fargo, Uber, Netflix, Domino’s and American Express. AT&T, which owns WarnerMedia, CNN’s parent company, also has not made a public comment regarding their advertising plans on Facebook.

This form of mainstream media activism follows the same model as the YouTube “adpocalypse” in 2017, in which major brands, spurred by a media-led panic, boycotted YouTube in an attempt to pressure the Google-owned platform into censoring and financially blacklisting controversial content.

Although analysts say the boycott is not a major financial threat to Facebook this year, the company is still buckling under the pressure. Mark Zuckerberg announced plans for even stricter policing of “hateful” speech in response to the advertiser pressure, and Adweek reported today that Facebook has agreed to an external “brand safety audit.”

Even before the boycott, Facebook showed signs of caving in to political pressure to censor the Trump campaign. Last month, the platform took down an official Trump ad that denounced Antifa violence, on the grounds that one of the modern-day Antifa symbols used in the ad (an upside-down red triangle) was also once used by the Nazis.

Are you an insider at Google, Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, or any other tech company who wants to confidentially reveal wrongdoing or political bias at your company? Reach out to Allum Bokhari at his secure email address

Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News.


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