Coca-Cola (Getty Images)
  • Coca-Cola in South Africa will not advertise - or post content - on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn for the next month.
  • This is part of a global campaign protesting the way Facebook in particular handles hate speech on its platform.
  • Microsoft has also suspended global advertising on social media platforms, while Unilever and Ford have limited this to the US.
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Coca-Cola in South Africa has stopped all advertising on social media from Wednesday – as part of a global corporate boycott that is gathering steam.

Camilla Osborne, head of communications in Coca-Cola Southern and East Africa, confirmed to Business Insider that the company will pause all advertising on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and TikTok until the end of July. It will also stop posting content on these platforms during this time.

Coca-Cola joined many other big companies who suspended their advertising on social media platforms amid criticism that Facebook and Twitter aren't doing enough to protect users from hate speech.

Companies like Unilever (which owns brands like Surf, Omo, Knorr and Dove), Starbucks and Ford stopped advertising on social media in the US. Others, including Coca-Cola and Microsoft, have halted social media ads globally. Business Insider SA has asked Microsoft SA for confirmation about its position in South Africa.

READ | Microsoft paused ad spending on Facebook and Instagram over 'inappropriate content' concerns

“There is no place for racism in the world, and there is no place for racism on social media,” Coca-Cola chairman and CEO James Quincey said in a statement. “We will take this time to reassess our advertising policies to determine whether revisions are needed. We also expect greater accountability and transparency from our social media partners.”

The social media ad boycott has been gaining steam since June 17, when a group of six non-profit US organisations wrote an open letter calling for advertisers to boycott Facebook.

On Tuesday a survey of the top 58 advertisers indicated that almost a third are considering pausing their social media advertising as part of the boycott.

The original open letter followed Facebook's handling of a post from US President Donald Trump.

In late May, as the George Floyd protests were starting to take root, Trump tweeted about protesters in Minneapolis: "When the looting starts, the shooting starts."

While Twitter decided to place the tweet behind a block warning users that it broke the platform's rules on glorifying violence, Facebook decided to leave the equivalent post untouched on its own platform, prompting outrage from civil rights groups and Facebook's own employees.

On Wednesday, Lego became the latest company to join the boycott.


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