The Facebook advertising boycott has changed everyone's favorite social media platform forever
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Sometimes a boycott succeeds when it fails.

Although the general aim of a boycott is to hurt profits, there are times when the symbolism of a boycott gives birth to a constant, overt and irreversible new optic for a company to nurse.

When the boycott of Facebook began in June and reached its peak in July, it gathered thousands of brands who vocalized their dissatisfaction with the platform.

The boycott, under the hashtag #StopHateForProfit, was launched by civil rights groups. By July brands were fully behind removing their ad spending - resulting in a small financial dent for the social media juggernaut, but a forceful bludgeoning in the press.



Although Facebook still saw growth during the boycott, the social network was left with no choice but to address its own long standing apathy towards hate speech and disinformation. With copious amounts of money constantly flowing through the company, it's clear that in many ways the Facebook executive team see their reputation among activists and the public as a more elusive form of intangible capital.

Intangible capital that they cannot afford to burn through at the rate they currently are.

Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg once again attempted to rebuff the assertions that Facebook has done little to stem hate speech and misinformation on their platform.

"Some seem to wrongly assume that most of the content on our services is about politics, news, misinformation or hate," Zuckerberg said.

"These make up a small part of the content on our services, although they are all things that people generally tell us they'd like to see even less of. We do not profit from misinformation or hate," he continued.

"We completely agree that we don't want hate on our platforms, and we stand firmly against it," Sandberg said. "We don't benefit from hate speech. We never have. Users don't want to see it. Advertisers don't want to be associated with it."

This is a lie.

Many of Facebooks top performing posts, advertisements and public figures peddle a deluge of white supremacy, conspiracy theories, homophobia, misogyny, death threats, coronavirus misinformation and just about every other form of information that can be mangled and weaponized for public consumption.

However, Facebook has more recently made one symbolic step towards something resembling integrity.

Facebook took down a video posted by the Trump campaign in which he claimed children were "virtually immune" to the coronavirus. This is generally regarded by the majority of health experts as completely false and flies in the face of any basic level of logical thought. The reason for it being removed from Facebook was due to it being in violation of the social network's rules against misinformation about coronavirus. This represents a positive small step forward for the social media giant, a small step in a marathon of decency that should have been started over a decade ago.

The boycott began what will be a series of future reality checks for Facebook, as they can no longer plead ignorance or impartiality. In a statement, the boycott organizers said, "This movement will not go away until Facebook makes the reasonable changes that society wants. The ad pause in July was not a full campaign — it was a warning shot across Facebook's bow."

The fact is, despite what Zuckerberg and Sandberg would have you believe, that Facebook is molding the national consciousness and finds itself dangerously close to irrevocably poisoning the body politic.

There is a small window within which to salvage what integrity remains, but consistently denying their own faults does nothing to begin this vital process.

via Walt Disney Television / Flickr and The Simpsons Wiki

Actor Hank Azaria's relationship with "The Simpsons" character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon holds a mirror up to how America has progressed as a society on the issue of race over the past three decades. Last year, he announced he'd no longer be performing the character, but that came after a long, slow journey of understanding.

"It's 1988, and somebody says to me, 'Hey, can you do an Indian accent?' It was, like, one line. I said, 'Yeah, I think so.' And Apu comes out. We're like 'OK, that was funny' and we all laugh. So that keeps going from there, and over the years it develops," he revealed on Dax Shepard and Monica Padman's "Armchair Expert" podcast.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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