Election

Biden campaign will not pull advertising despite widening boycott against Facebook

US Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks on June 30, 2020, in Wilmington, Delaware. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images via CNN)

(CNN) — Joe Biden‘s campaign is not pulling advertising from Facebook despite a growing boycott by major companies of the social media platform, arguing that while it shares in the values of the boycotters, it “cannot afford to cede these platforms” to President Donald Trump.

“We share the concerns of companies who are speaking up about Facebook’s inaction around making meaningful changes that protects our democracy,” Biden spokesman Bill Russo said in a statement. “But with less than five months until Election Day, we cannot afford to cede these platforms to Donald Trump and his lies. Our campaign will be present every day to get our message in front of every voter to ensure Trump doesn’t get another four years.”

Since launching his run for president in April 2019, the Biden campaign has spent $26.7 million on advertising on the social media platform, with $22.3 million of that spending coming since just before the South Carolina primary. Since the general election began, about half of the Biden campaign’s total ad budget has gone to Facebook, per CMAG data.

Civil rights groups launched the #StopHateforProfit campaign earlier this month, calling on major corporations to halt advertising on Facebook for the month of July, due to the platform’s “repeated failure to meaningfully address the vast proliferation of hate on its platforms.”

The North Face and REI were among the first to join the pressure campaign, and since then, a long list of major companies — including Ben & Jerry’s, Adidas, Patagonia and Birchbox — have followed suit.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg agreed to meet with civil rights groups amid the widening advertiser boycott of the social media platform, the company told CNN Wednesday.

The groups have called for Facebook to take nearly a dozen steps to combat hate speech and misinformation, including recommending giving victims of harassment the ability to speak to a Facebook representative and making changes to Facebook’s policies.

Despite its unwillingness to pull advertising from the platform, the Biden campaign has voiced its grievances against Facebook since last year, voicing concern specifically over the platform’s role in spreading disinformation.

This week, in another letter the Biden campaign sent to Facebook, campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon once again expressed alarm over how seriously the company is taking the matter of the spread of disinformation on its site and beseeched Facebook to prevent the use of its platform by Trump to spread “hateful content.”

“With respect to ‘hateful content,” O’Malley Dillon writes, “the question is not whether ‘there is a public interest in allowing a wide range of free expression in people’s posts’ even when that expression includes divisive and inflammatory content, as your announcement suggested.”

Rather, the question, she said, is whether Facebook’s algorithm should continue to amplify the content because it is “divisive and inflammatory.”

“The answer to that question is no, which should be clearer now than ever before,” she writes.

In June, the Biden campaign launched a push they are calling #MoveFastFixIt, urging its millions of supporters to sign an open letter to Zuckerberg. The letter called on on Facebook to implement rules that prohibit threatening behavior and lies about how to vote.

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