Viber Severs Facebook Business Ties Amidst Advertising Boycott

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Viber has joined a group that continues to boycott Facebook advertising as it cuts all business ties with the social media company. Android Central reports that the cross-platform instant messaging company has decided to cut ties over Facebook's content moderation politics.

Goodby Silverstein, a large advertising agency whose clients include  BMW, HP, PayPal and Pepsi was one of the first companies to halt advertising with Facebook.

This all comes out of row over Facebook's refusal to moderate hate speech on its platform. Joe Biden called the company to promote real news but Facebook refused to censor the voices of those it disagrees with.

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Advertisers continue to boycott Facebook

This period of time could be a seminal moment for the social media industry. Twitter continues to battle with President Trump over free speech.

Whilst Facebook is embroiled in its own row over the moderation of content. The next few months of this saga could prove to be decisive in the direction this industry goes.

Viber has released a statement explaining why it ended its advertising partnership with Facebook. In the statement, the company said, "Facebook continues to demonstrate poor judgment in understanding its role in today's world". This includes issues with mishandling of data as well as a lack of privacy on its apps.

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It also described Facebook's stand on free speech as "outrageous". The statement ended by stating that "companies must take a clear stand." Very strong words from Viber as the unrest against Facebook grows. It seems that Facebook's stand on free speech is merely the final straw for Viber.

Scandals surrounding Cambridge Analytica, as well as many others over the year have led advertisers to take this stand. For most companies, the boycott is not a total business cutoff as it is with Viber. Other companies such as North Face, Ben and Jerry's and Patagonia will just cease advertising for the month of July. This is part of the #StopHateForProfit campaign.

Boycott having a financial impact on Facebook

Commentators have suggested that this boycott could have a real effect on Facebook's wallet. Mark Zuckerberg sought to address the issue this week demonstrating how important the boycott is to the company. In a meeting, he told advertisers the company does not set its policies to maximise profit.

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He claims its policies are about remaining neutral with regards to free speech. However, this has not always been popular with his employees. In May they staged a virtual walkout in response to Facebook's lack of action on hateful speech.

With more and more companies joining this advertising ban this could force Facebook's hand to take action. Other social media companies have moved to control hate speech but Facebook is being left behind.

The next months will be very interesting to observe to see if the company is committed to this stance if it hurts business.

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