Eight major Canadian banks join Facebook ad boycott

MONTREAL – Eight major banks said they would heed a call by other major global advertisers to Facebook, demanding the social network do more to tackle racist and other hate speech.

Scotiabank, RBC, CIBC, TD, BMO, National Bank of Canada, Desjardins and Laurentian Bank confirmed to AFP that they support the #StopHateForProfit movement launched by social justice activists.

That means they will pull their ads from Facebook and its sister photo-sharing platform Instagram.

“We have temporarily paused paid advertising on Facebook and Instagram,” a TD spokesman said.

“TD is committed to the fight against racism and hate speech and to the work needed to help create a safer and more inclusive society.”

An RBC spokesman said the bank wanted to work towards “eliminating systemic racism and unconscious bias, and enhance diversity, equity and inclusion”.

“One way we can do that is by standing against misinformation and hate speech, which only make systemic racism more pervasive,” he added.

More than 400 companies including Adidas, Coca-Cola, Puma and Starbucks have suspended their ad buys on Facebook, which has more than 1.7 billion daily users, as part of an exodus aimed at pushing Facebook and its peers to suppress posts that glorify violence, divide and misinform the public, and promote racism and discrimination.

The #StopHateForProfit campaign was launched by pressure groups including the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) in the United States.

The movement gained momentum in the wake of the May death in police custody of Mr George Floyd, an unarmed African American.

Last week, Facebook said it would ban a “wider category of hateful content” in response to the growing protests.

Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said the changes were based on “feedback from the civil rights community and reflect months of work with our civil rights auditors”.

This week, the world’s leading social network disrupted a “violent US-based anti-government network” loosely affiliated with the far-right “Boogaloo” movement.

Mr Zuckerberg and his chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg will meet at least three civil rights groups on Tuesday after their organisations led an advertising boycott of the social media giant.

The Facebook executives will meet with Anti-Defamation League chief executive officer Jonathan Greenblatt, Colour of Change president Rashad Robinson and Mr Derrick Johnson, chief executive officer of NAACP, a Facebook spokesman confirmed.

Facebook and the groups didn’t disclose further details of the meeting.

Facebook contacted the civil rights groups last week to arrange a meeting with Ms Sandberg and chief product officer Chris Cox, a company spokesman said.

The civil rights groups said they wanted Mr Zuckerberg to be at the meeting and he later confirmed he would attend, the spokesman added.

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